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Hilton Hacker Pleads Guilty

A 17-year-old Massachusetts kid has pleaded guilty for hacking into hotel heiress Paris Hilton's cell phone and distributing the racy contents of the device all over the Internet earlier this year. The same kid admitted to me in March that he was one of the primary hackers involved in breaking into data aggregator LexisNexis and accessing personal records on more than 310,000 consumers.

According to the Justice Department, the youth also pleaded guilty to hacking into a major wireless carrier in order to provide free cell-phone service for his buddies. When the wireless provider learned of the fraudulent accounts and shut them off, the teen launched a digital assault on the company, temporarily knocking out most of its Web site properties.

He also infiltrated the internal networks at America Online by tricking an employee there into opening a virus-infected e-mail attachment. The teen also called in bomb threats at two different high schools, one of which resulted in the school being closed for two days while a bomb squad, a canine team, the fire department and other emergency officials were called in.

I had a chance to get to know this young man in a series of almost daily online chats and phone conversations over a five-month period earlier this year, and found him to be extremely bright, likable and terribly funny. Unfortunately, he fits a profile that is sadly all too common among young hackers: He had little or no trouble circumventing adult supervision, and his online activities served mainly to bolster his ego, which led to increasingly daring and destructive exploits.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, he will be serving 11 months' detention, which according to his buddies is actually home confinement at a relative's residence. The detention will be followed by two years' supervised release, and he is barred from using a computer or phone that can access the Internet during his detention and probation.

I sincerely hope that during this time he learns that he can use his considerable creativity and skills for something productive. I firmly believe that there are plenty of mischievous hackers out there who -- if they have a positive role model to look up to and can manage to make it through their teenage years without doing stupid stuff that will land them in prison -- can actually contribute a great deal to society.

By Brian Krebs  |  September 14, 2005; 12:01 PM ET
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Rather than this classic
slap-on-the-wrist, I'd
give such hackers 10 years
of hard time breaking rocks.
And I think most computer
users, victims of their
brain-dead pranks, would

-- stan

Posted by: Stan Krute | September 14, 2005 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Stan is right on. In addition, I think this hacker's name should be published like that of any other criminal --- even though he is a juvenile. He clearly seems to have no idea how serious his actions were. It's infuriating.

Posted by: Sharon | September 14, 2005 4:52 PM | Report abuse

If he were a black kid, they would have tried him as an adult and thrown the key away. More racial divide in action.

Posted by: kellamd | September 14, 2005 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Stan: the penalty should have been much stricter.

It hasn't trickled into the mainstream psyche yet just how costly to every single global computer user are the activities of these cyber-thugs.

When it does, watch out.

Posted by: Trevor | September 14, 2005 6:01 PM | Report abuse

This kid wasn't ignorant. These acts of "stupid brilliance" are glorified in movies and in the media. Why should he be good when everybody has put Mitdick's mug on the air (and he's super-stupid).

In any case, Mitdick, Lamo-the-lame, and all these other wannabe screwball braggarts should take a lesson from Poulsen..

Posted by: stupidhick | September 15, 2005 1:42 AM | Report abuse

There's some real interesting information in this press release:

Contrary to the statement in Brian's blog entry, this kid did not, in fact, hack a cell phone.

One has to wonder where his parent were while he was making bomb threats, etc.

Posted by: keydet89 | September 15, 2005 10:37 AM | Report abuse

The correct responses are coming through. Until these stupid, bleeding heart judges (if you can call them that) are faced with having to pay for their stupid judgements, then the creeps will continue to deface our society. This judge is so arrogant and stupid to think we need this little piece of crap because of his brilliance. The one's we need are the one's who are working full time at Microsoft, etc. They should throw this little jerk in prison. YOU are having to pay for this, not the jerk judge.

Posted by: Jsarring | September 15, 2005 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to say he shouldn't be punished, or that what he did was just typical teenage pranksterism (although my idea of the trouble teenagers make is 50 years old), but when I first read about his sentence, the article suggested that he'd be spending 11 months in some "youth facility." Many feel it's appropriate for a "white-collar" criminal to be locked away with a bunch of rapists, armed robbers, and possibly even murderers, but I'm inclined to think such a sentence would not only be "cruel and unusual," but would endanger his life. Still, I'm not sure "house arrest" is sufficient either.

Posted by: BRay | September 15, 2005 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The kid needs education of moral values . I think his parents surely lack of it .Considering his age and intellect the boy should be given chance to correct himself .A man is born only once and the state should have a positive outlook for its future . The colour of the kid or the social status do not matter.The kid should be given a chance to look at the positive world .

Posted by: Mousumi Karmakar,Kolkata,India | September 15, 2005 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Why should we punish kids when respectable companys employ hijackers to advertise their crap on our computers ? I mean you American Express and you'r use of lopdotcom to hijack my browser.

Posted by: John | September 15, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

He knew what he was doing was wrong. He has been raided more times than anyone would care to count. It was only after the visibility of the Lexus Nexus, Choicepoint, and T-mobile hacks that the government felt any real pressure to pursue CHARGES.

Because of all of the prior raids and the lack of consequences beyond that, he had no fear -- who WOULD?!? After a computer was seized, he'd scam people for a credit card number and buy a new one, or an online friend would do it for him -- or he hid an extra laptop elsewhere, or he used a sidekick.

Posted by: Nobody | September 15, 2005 9:59 PM | Report abuse

What happend to the other's? majestic, krazed, null? and why did cam0 say "Defonic Team Screen Name Club" that is about the gayest shit I have ever heard. Anyways you know cam0 isn't going to learn he is prolly socialing people in juvie right now to get extra shit.

Posted by: 0x80 | September 18, 2005 3:52 AM | Report abuse

Put him to work in a Dell call center. Send all of the virus and spyware calls to him. Disable his ability to hang up on caller or remove his headset.

Posted by: Ken | September 18, 2005 7:18 PM | Report abuse

This is cool, you have to try it. I guessed 26810, and this game guessed it! See it here -

Posted by: Allison Trump | November 11, 2005 5:07 PM | Report abuse

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