Internet Law

Alleged Architect of Record Hack Attack is Computer Addict, His Lawyer Says


A defendant in what federal prosecutors describe as a hacking and identity theft case of record-breaking scope was a computer addict who spent much of his free time online since age 8, according to his lawyer.

Albert Gonzalez, who is now 28, “didn’t go out in the sandbox or play baseball. The computer was his best friend,” attorney Rene Palomino of Miami tells PC World. As his online skills sharpened, Gonzalez was impelled to look for bigger and bigger challenges, the lawyer adds.

While still in high school in South Florida, Gonzalez, then 17, allegedly used school library computers to hack into websites maintained by the government of India and leave offensive messages, although he escaped punishment, reports the Miami Herald.

“All of a sudden the FBI was at the school, and they want two of the computers in the library,” Thomas Shaw, principal of South Miami High, tells the newspaper.

But others scoffed at the implicit idea that Gonzalez might be virtually powerless to stop his obsessive use of the Internet. Rather than being addicted to computers, it appears that Gonzalez may have been addicted to money, Web security expert Ira Winkler tells Computerworld. Gonzalez reportedly had a lavish lifestyle and is accused of having participated in multiple illegal hacking schemes involving huge amounts of money.

He allegedly carried off his latest hack attack by masquerading as a database administrator and installing malware on computer systems used by retailers, including 7-Eleven Co Inc., for point-of-sale transactions, according to another Computerworld article.

Hat tip: CIO Australia.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Alleged Mastermind in Biggest-Ever ID-Theft Prosecution Faces 2 Other Cases”

Wall Street Journal (sub. req.): “Arrest in Epic Cyber Swindle”

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