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Hacker Jeremy Hammond Gets 10 Years

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 34 comments

Jeremy Hammond picked up a 10 year prison sentence on Friday for his involvement in hacking the intelligence organization Strategic Forecasting in 2011.

Hammond plead guilty to the charged, lowering his potential sentence from the 35 year maximum to 10. "Yes I broke the law, but I believe sometimes laws must be broken in order to make room for change…. I still believe in hacktivism as a form of civil disobedience."

Hammond, along with other members of the group, Anonymous, stole over 60,000 credit card numbers and used them to make donations to non-profits. Additionally, they published hundreds of thousands of emails and customer data relating to Stratfor's clientele. The emails suggest that the security firm was to be paid a hefty sum to track hacktivist groups and infiltrate their ranks.

The US government rigorously pursued the maximum sentence on the grounds that Jeremy was a repeat offender. "While he billed himself as fighting for an anarchist cause, in reality, Jeremy Hammond caused personal and financial chaos for individuals whose identities and money he took and for companies whose businesses he decided he didn't like… he was nothing more than a repeat offender cybercriminal who thought that because of his computer savvy he was above the law…”

Hammond, a member of Antisec, had hundreds of supporters. The US District Court hearing his case and Judge Loretta Preska received over 250 letters backing Hammond. The Electronic Frontier Foundation similarly voiced their support for a lesser sentence.

Hammond is just the latest prosecution effort of various governments around the world to clamp down on "cyberterrorism" and internet crime.

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  • 16 Hide
    MajinCry , November 20, 2013 10:50 AM
    Meanwhile, we have the bankers doing unto others at will, without consequences of any kind...

    (language edited by Moderator; feel free to re-edit for meaning)
  • 12 Hide
    ceh4702 , November 20, 2013 10:57 AM
    Charging someone 40% interest on a credit card. That is what should be illegal.
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    kinggremlin , November 20, 2013 10:44 AM
    Enjoy your time in jail. You've earned it. Stealing customers credit cards and then using them no matter for what purpose is not make a statement against the "establishment." It just makes you a common criminal. Ridiculous how anyone would see that as a cause worth supporting.
  • 9 Hide
    COLGeek , November 20, 2013 10:45 AM
    If you do the crime, be prepared to do the time. Seems Mr. Hammond understood those risks and took ownership of them. Now, payment is due.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , November 20, 2013 10:48 AM
    Tough call. There is not enough information here to pass judgement, although it appears that he may have believed "the end justifies the means" which is Wrong, even if the end is the exposure of institutional wrongdoing. It also looks like he mixed in a hefty dose of common thievery.
    It sounds like he is guilty of the sort of willful wrongdoing for which my "head in a bucket (to catch the mess)" solution is appropriate, but if he exposed other wrongdoing, that needs to be pursued with at least equal vigor.
  • 16 Hide
    MajinCry , November 20, 2013 10:50 AM
    Meanwhile, we have the bankers doing unto others at will, without consequences of any kind...

    (language edited by Moderator; feel free to re-edit for meaning)
  • -2 Hide
    ceh4702 , November 20, 2013 10:55 AM
    People like this should get the maximum fine and jail time. Cant fix Stupid. He should have went to Russia.
  • 12 Hide
    ceh4702 , November 20, 2013 10:57 AM
    Charging someone 40% interest on a credit card. That is what should be illegal.
  • 0 Hide
    onichikun , November 20, 2013 11:00 AM
    Charging someone 40% interest on a credit card. That is what should be illegal.

    Although it may seem unfair, you aren't FORCED to agree to 40% interest. You signed up based on the terms of a contract, if you failed to realize the stipulations of that contract, then that is your failure.

  • -4 Hide
    cemerian , November 20, 2013 11:01 AM
    The end always justifies the means, always
  • 0 Hide
    dgingeri , November 20, 2013 11:19 AM
    what a scumbag. I just hope his jail time makes him less of a scumbag, rather than more.
  • -1 Hide
    xelliz , November 20, 2013 11:54 AM
    Tens years is still a long time so I'm ok with that. The thing is regardless of what "movement" they claimed to be supporting they didn't help, but hurt the common man. So...too bad for those involved that will now be serving time.
  • 0 Hide
    B4vB5 , November 20, 2013 12:09 PM
    Ofc its wrong to steal CCs and use em for whatever good he was trying todo. But 10 yrs? Child molesters, rapists and people ruining other peoples lives in alot more direct ways, gets less than this.

    He should serve in an semi-open prison with no access to internet, as he obivously isn't violent. In this sick twisted world, there certainly are alot worse criminals than him, but he is one and thus should serve. If someone obused my CC I would lose max $200 and the rest the bank would cover, so noone should've lost their house on this stunt. If they did they should swap bank or emigrate.
  • 1 Hide
    teh_chem , November 20, 2013 12:11 PM
    Tough call. There is not enough information here to pass judgement, although it appears that he may have believed "the end justifies the means" which is Wrong, even if the end is the exposure of institutional wrongdoing. It also looks like he mixed in a hefty dose of common thievery.
    It sounds like he is guilty of the sort of willful wrongdoing for which my "head in a bucket (to catch the mess)" solution is appropriate, but if he exposed other wrongdoing, that needs to be pursued with at least equal vigor.

    I don't think it was a tough call though. WhiIe I agree with the principle such as credentials and personally-identifiable info should not be stored in clear text (like was found), the guys from this situation were not really all that altruistic. I posted this in another forum dealing with the same story; There came a point where they did hack into various systems, and they could have stopped at that and volunteered to work with said system architects to actually improve the security (or to report them anonymously via many whistle-blowers avenues). But they didn't do that. They proceeded to release innocent bystander information, and use the credit card info they obtained from hacking for fraudulent charges--it doesn't matter if those fraudulent charges were used for donations to various charities; the entities that were "donated" that money don't get to keep it, and often incur additional charges and manpower just to clean up the mess. It's a pain in the ass to deal with CC fraud as an individual. These immature people should pay for their lack of ethical choices, especially since they had so many opportunities to behave ethically and properly. I think the punishment is perfectly acceptable, even if the amounts may have been tilted because of political or example-setting reasons.
  • 0 Hide
    LaughALot , November 20, 2013 12:18 PM
    He stripped his victims of their democratic rights. The tax deduction for charitable contributions are in their own way a form of true democracy. You choose the charity to support and some of your tax dollars goes to that organization or cause. He in effect was attempting dictate what cause his victims should support.
  • 0 Hide
    Parrdacc , November 20, 2013 12:20 PM
    Had you and others of Anon had not stole from regular citizens and published their personnel data; I would have a lot more sympathy for you and may even be in your corner. However, that is not what you did, and as such when you do these things to the average person, no matter the cause or reason, you just show yourselves to be nothing more than self serving and egotistic idiots. You bring disgrace to yourselves and your cause and bring a black mark to those who are true hacks and activists.
  • -1 Hide
    derekullo , November 20, 2013 12:25 PM
    Unless his prison cell has a computer and internet I don't think he can read all this bashing.
  • 1 Hide
    whimseh , November 20, 2013 12:40 PM
    Well deserved.

    Sorry but stealing people's credit cards isn't "hacktivism".
  • 3 Hide
    Onus , November 20, 2013 12:54 PM
    Exactly, stealing and using personal CCs for any cause is unjustified, constitutes willful wrongdoing (not "hacktivism"), and deserves the bucket.
    Exposing wrongdoing (particularly in Government) more properly qualifies as hacktivism, which I believe is a Right thing to do; these guys need to stop at that.
  • 6 Hide
    Dolph123 , November 20, 2013 1:04 PM
    After reading the title i thought Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond from Top Gear were sentenced for hacking
  • 0 Hide
    CatchMB , November 20, 2013 2:33 PM
    Sorry about the above post. but in response to the comment earlier:
    Child molesters, rapists and people ruining other peoples lives in alot more direct ways, gets less than this.

    These offenders deserve much more than what they get in terms of punishment.
    This hacker deserves more simply due to the number of people he harmed. A lesser sentence multiplied by the 60,000+ people that he harmed, 10 years? He got off easy. That's a lot of counts.
  • 5 Hide
    childofthekorn , November 20, 2013 2:59 PM

    "Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity. My name is Jeremy Hammond and I’m here to be sentenced for hacking activities carried out during my involvement with Anonymous. I have been locked up at MCC for the past 20 months and have had a lot of time to think about how I would explain my actions.

    Before I begin, I want to take a moment to recognize the work of the people who have supported me. I want to thank all the lawyers and others who worked on my case: Elizabeth Fink, Susan Kellman, Sarah Kunstler, Emily Kunstler, Margaret Kunstler, and Grainne O’Neill. I also want to thank the National Lawyers Guild, the Jeremy Hammond Defense Committee and Support Network, Free Anons, the Anonymous Solidarity Network, Anarchist Black Cross, and all others who have helped me by writing a letter of support, sending me letters, attending my court dates, and spreading the word about my case. I also want to shout out my brothers and sisters behind bars and those who are still out there fighting the power.

    The acts of civil disobedience and direct action that I am being sentenced for today are in line with the principles of community and equality that have guided my life. I hacked into dozens of high profile corporations and government institutions, understanding very clearly that what I was doing was against the law, and that my actions could land me back in federal prison. But I felt that I had an obligation to use my skills to expose and confront injustice—and to bring the truth to light.

    Could I have achieved the same goals through legal means? I have tried everything from voting petitions to peaceful protest and have found that those in power do not want the truth to be exposed. When we speak truth to power we are ignored at best and brutally suppressed at worst. We are confronting a power structure that does not respect its own system of checks and balances, never mind the rights of it’s own citizens or the international community.

    My introduction to politics was when George W. Bush stole the Presidential election in 2000, then took advantage of the waves of racism and patriotism after 9/11 to launch unprovoked imperialist wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. I took to the streets in protest naively believing our voices would be heard in Washington and we could stop the war. Instead, we were labeled as traitors, beaten, and arrested.

    I have been arrested for numerous acts of civil disobedience on the streets of Chicago, but it wasn’t until 2005 that I used my computer skills to break the law in political protest. I was arrested by the FBI for hacking into the computer systems of a right-wing, pro-war group called Protest Warrior, an organization that sold racist t-shirts on their website and harassed anti-war groups. I was charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the “intended loss” in my case was arbitrarily calculated by multiplying the 5000 credit cards in Protest Warrior’s database by $500, resulting in a total of $2.5 million.My sentencing guidelines were calculated on the basis of this “loss,” even though not a single credit card was used or distributed – by me or anyone else. I was sentenced to two years in prison.

    While in prison I have seen for myself the ugly reality of how the criminal justice system destroys the lives of the millions of people held captive behind bars. The experience solidified my opposition to repressive forms of power and the importance of standing up for what you believe.

    When I was released, I was eager to continue my involvement in struggles for social change. I didn’t want to go back to prison, so I focused on above-ground community organizing. But over time, I became frustrated with the limitations, of peaceful protest, seeing it as reformist and ineffective. The Obama administration continued the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, escalated the use of drones, and failed to close Guantanamo Bay.

    Around this time, I was following the work of groups like Wikileaks and Anonymous. It was very inspiring to see the ideas of hactivism coming to fruition. I was particularly moved by the heroic actions of Chelsea Manning, who had exposed the atrocities committed by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. She took an enormous personal risk to leak this information – believing that the public had a right to know and hoping that her disclosures would be a positive step to end these abuses. It is heart-wrenching to hear about her cruel treatment in military lockup.

    I thought long and hard about choosing this path again. I had to ask myself, if Chelsea Manning fell into the abysmal nightmare of prison fighting for the truth, could I in good conscience do any less, if I was able? I thought the best way to demonstrate solidarity was to continue the work of exposing and confronting corruption.

    I was drawn to Anonymous because I believe in autonomous, decentralized direct action. At the time Anonymous was involved in operations in support of the Arab Spring uprisings, against censorship, and in defense of Wikileaks. I had a lot to contribute, including technical skills, and how to better articulate ideas and goals. It was an exciting time – the birth of a digital dissent movement, where the definitions and capabilities of hacktivism were being shaped.

    I was especially interested in the work of the hackers of LulzSec who were breaking into some significant targets and becoming increasingly political. Around this time, I first started talking to Sabu, who was very open about the hacks he supposedly committed, and was encouraging hackers to unite and attack major government and corporate systems under the banner of Anti Security. But very early in my involvement, the other Lulzsec hackers were arrested, leaving me to break into systems and write press releases. Later, I would learn that Sabu had been the first one arrested, and that the entire time I was talking to him he was an FBI informant.

    Anonymous was also involved in the early stages of Occupy Wall Street. I was regularly participating on the streets as part of Occupy Chicago and was very excited to see a worldwide mass movement against the injustices of capitalism and racism. In several short months, the “Occupations” came to an end, closed by police crackdowns and mass arrests of protestors who were kicked out of their own public parks. The repression of Anonymous and the Occupy Movement set the tone for Antisec in the following months – the majority of our hacks against police targets were in retaliation for the arrests of our comrades.

    I targeted law enforcement systems because of the racism and inequality with which the criminal law is enforced. I targeted the manufacturers and distributors of military and police equipment who profit from weaponry used to advance U.S. political and economic interests abroad and to repress people at home. I targeted information security firms because they work in secret to protect government and corporate interests at the expense of individual rights, undermining and discrediting activists, journalists and other truth seekers, and spreading disinformation.

    I had never even heard of Stratfor until Sabu brought it to my attention. Sabu was encouraging people to invade systems, and helping to strategize and facilitate attacks. He even provided me with vulnerabilities of targets passed on by other hackers, so it came as a great surprise when I learned that Sabu had been working with the FBI the entire time.

    On December 4, 2011, Sabu was approached by another hacker who had already broken into Stratfor’s credit card database. Sabu, under the watchful eye of his government handlers, then brought the hack to Antisec by inviting this hacker to our private chatroom, where he supplied download links to the full credit card database as well as the initial vulnerability access point to Stratfor’s systems.

    I spent some time researching Stratfor and reviewing the information we were given, and decided that their activities and client base made them a deserving target. I did find it ironic that Stratfor’s wealthy and powerful customer base had their credit cards used to donate to humanitarian organizations, but my main role in the attack was to retrieve Stratfor’s private email spools which is where all the dirty secrets are typically found.

    It took me more than a week to gain further access into Stratfor’s internal systems, but I eventually broke into their mail server. There was so much information, we needed several servers of our own in order to transfer the emails. Sabu, who was involved with the operation at every step, offered a server, which was provided and monitored by the FBI. Over the next weeks, the emails were transferred, the credit cards were used for donations, and Stratfor’s systems were defaced and destroyed. Why the FBI would introduce us to the hacker who found the initial vulnerability and allow this hack to continue remains a mystery.

    As a result of the Stratfor hack, some of the dangers of the unregulated private intelligence industry are now known. It has been revealed through Wikileaks and other journalists around the world that Stratfor maintained a worldwide network of informants that they used to engage in intrusive and possibly illegal surveillance activities on behalf of large multinational corporations.

    After Stratfor, I continued to break into other targets, using a powerful “zero day exploit” allowing me administrator access to systems running the popular Plesk webhosting platform. Sabu asked me many times for access to this exploit, which I refused to give him. Without his own independent access, Sabu continued to supply me with lists of vulnerable targets. I broke into numerous websites he supplied, uploaded the stolen email accounts and databases onto Sabu’s FBI server, and handed over passwords and backdoors that enabled Sabu (and, by extension, his FBI handlers) to control these targets.

    These intrusions, all of which were suggested by Sabu while cooperating with the FBI, affected thousands of domain names and consisted largely of foreign government websites, including those of XXXXXX, XXXXXX, XXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXX, XXXXXXXX, XXXXXXX and the XXXXXX XXXXXXX. In one instance, Sabu and I provided access information to hackers who went on to deface and destroy many government websites in XXXXXX. I don’t know how other information I provided to him may have been used, but I think the government’s collection and use of this data needs to be investigated.

    jeremy hammond hearing
    Sketch from inside Judge Preska’s courtroom, by Molly Crabapple

    The government celebrates my conviction and imprisonment, hoping that it will close the door on the full story. I took responsibility for my actions, by pleading guilty, but when will the government be made to answer for its crimes?

    The U.S. hypes the threat of hackers in order to justify the multi billion dollar cyber security industrial complex, but it is also responsible for the same conduct it aggressively prosecutes and claims to work to prevent. The hypocrisy of “law and order” and the injustices caused by capitalism cannot be cured by institutional reform but through civil disobedience and direct action. Yes I broke the law, but I believe that sometimes laws must be broken in order to make room for change.

    In the immortal word of Frederick Douglas, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

    This is not to say that I do not have any regrets. I realize that I released the personal information of innocent people who had nothing to do with the operations of the institutions I targeted. I apologize for the release of data that was harmful to individuals and irrelevant to my goals. I believe in the individual right to privacy – from government surveillance, and from actors like myself, and I appreciate the irony of my own involvement in the trampling of these rights. I am committed to working to make this world a better place for all of us. I still believe in the importance of hactivism as a form of civil disobedience, but it is time for me to move on to other ways of seeking change. My time in prison has taken a toll on my family, friends, and community. I know I am needed at home. I recognize that 7 years ago I stood before a different federal judge, facing similar charges, but this does not lessen the sincerity of what I say to you today.

    It has taken a lot for me to write this, to explain my actions, knowing that doing so — honestly — could cost me more years of my life in prison. I am aware that I could get as many as 10 years, but I hope that I do not, as I believe there is so much work to be done.


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