Convicted TJX hacker Albert Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years in prison today for leading a gang of cyberthieves who stole more than 90 million credit and debit card numbers from TJX and other retailers. The sentence for the largest computer-crime case ever prosecuted is the lengthiest ever imposed in the U.S. for hacking or identity-theft.
I had some thoughts around the sentence:
- It’s an acknowledgment that the government isn’t seeing this as an isolated/ individual action; the government recognizes a true crime organization issue on par with any other type of organized crime without the guns and violence… yet.
- Given some of the emerging detail around the Google/ China incident and the rise in cyber terrorism, raising the bar with sentences like this may detract some future “hackers”.
- Many of the cyber gangs don’t do it for the money; this wasn’t the case with Gonzalez. The idea of taking 15 million dollars to buy a yacht is seen as no different than if he had robbed a bank at gunpoint. What hasn’t been solved is how do you catch, prosecute and make an example of the cyber gangs that aren’t in it for the money?
- Gonzalez was given an opportunity to provide valuable information on other people, organizations and methods being used for cybercrime. He choose to be a double agent. This probably did not sit well with the judge.
What’s your take? Too long a sentence? Not long enough? Will this deter future hackers? I’d love to hear from you.
Frank Kenney is Vice President, Global Strategy and Product Management at Ipswitch, responsible for defining the company's vision and strategy and integrating his global perspective into the products, services and messaging. Frank brings an unmatched depth of experience and knowledge in the managed file transfer space to the team. Most recently, Frank was a Research Director at Gartner, Inc., responsible for analyzing topics including managed file transfer, application integration, SOA, and business process management. He initiated and drove the Magic Quadrants on managed file transfer and SOA governance technologies. Before joining Gartner, Frank was Director of Creative Services and Content Distribution at the Executive Business Group. Frank holds a degree in Music Technology from the Center for the Media Arts and has studied English and Computer Science at University of Tampa. When not working, Frank can be found living the life of a frustrated musician and producer in his home studio in Tampa.
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