TJX Hacker Gets 20 Years – Right Sentence?

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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.

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One Comment

  1. Posted March 26, 2010 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Much more powerful sentence than I had expected. I just hope it is the just decision – and nothing like those RIAA fiascos which were more to make a point than to properly punish. It should raise some eyrbrows though – as this is clearly a much heavier crime than hosting some music files.

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