A teenage hacker from New Zealand believed to be the ring-leader of a cyber-crime gang has managed to nab himself some work courtesy of his exploits.
When apprehended, Owen Thor Walker (then 18 years old) was described by the FBI as “bright and skilled” at what he was doing. Walker admitted to a total of six charges this time last year, including accessing a computer for dishonest purposes, interfering with computer systems, possession of software for committing crime and accessing computer systems without authorization.
The group is believed to have brought down the server at the University of Pennsylvania and infiltrated more than a million computers before Walker was arrested in November 2007. At the time, police estimated the gang had skimmed $25m in from victims bank accounts by hijacking computers all over the world and networking them to form a botnet. Walker is believed to have written programs unlike any other, capable of evading normal anti-virus software. Despite his guilty pleas, he was not convicted. The teenager was ordered to pay a share of damages caused to hacked machines and to stay away from computers.
A New Zealand news site reports that the 19 year old has since been hired by telecommunications company, TelstraClear. A spokesman for the company. Chris Mirams, said they had contracted Mr Walker for seminars and advertising which had been completed by late last year.
According to the site, TelstraClear considered the rulings, spoke to police who investigated the hacking as well as Walker and his mommy. "We found him pleasant to deal with and he genuinely wanted to help New Zealand businesses by sharing experiences," said Mr Mirams. He did not have access to the TelstraClear network.
We don’t really know what to make of this. Given the fact that he didn’t have access to the computer networks, it doesn’t seem like he had any chance to do any damage. That said, we still wouldn’t trust someone who’d stolen $25m from innocent people.