[funsec] Autistic hacker's talents to be used for good
Richard M. Smith
rms at computerbytesman.com
Wed Jul 16 10:04:02 CDT 2008
A teenage hacker who admitted to what the FBI call "an incredibly serious
crime" could end up on the right side of the law, helping police target
other hacking masterminds.
Owen Thor Walker, 18, of Whitianga, appeared for sentencing at the High
Court at Hamilton yesterday after earlier admitting six cyber crime charges.
Justice Judith Potter discharged him without conviction.
Crown lawyer Ross Douch and defence lawyer Tony Balme told the court that
New Zealand police were interested in using Walker's skills.
Police had yet to offer him a job, but Walker said he would be keen to take
them up on the offer if they did.
Walker has also been approached by overseas companies keen to employ him.
US Special agent Rich Kolko said yesterday from Washington that the FBI
considered it "an incredibly serious crime" and others nabbed in Operation
Bot Roast had received a range of convictions.
"It depends on the crime and how much leeway the judge has," Kolko said.
"There's certainly conditions where people's co-operation and assistance can
vary what type of sentences people receive.
Walker was allegedly the mastermind of a "botnet" coding group said to have
infected a million computers and caused millions of dollars of damage.
According to police Walker, known online as "Akill", received just under
$40,000 for his part in the attacks, which included a global adware scheme
and the collapse of a computer server at an American university.
As Justice Potter spared Walker a conviction, he allowed himself a smile and
his mother Shell Whyte buried her head in her hands in relief.
Walker was remorseful and said he now realised what he had done was wrong.
He felt "great" about the sentence.
Walker was diagnosed with Asberger's syndrome, a mild form of autism often
characterised by social isolation, when he was 10.
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