Crime Doesn't Pay

If you're old enough (like me), you might remember the theme song to the cop show "Baretta." "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time" is how it started. Owen Thor Walker will have some time to consider that advice; the 18-year-old New Zealander was just convicted of six charges of computer crimes.

AKILL, as he was known in the seedy underbelly of the online world, had fostered a network responsible for hacking into more than 1.3 million computers around the world. He and his cohorts apparently liberated millions of dollars from various bank accounts using botnets to lift credit card numbers and manipulate accounts.

His arrest comes after a lengthy international investigation in which eight other hackers have already been indicted, convicted or pleaded guilty. Thirteen other warrants have already been served in the U.S. and abroad as part of this global "botnet dragnet."

In Wellington's Thames District Court earlier this week, Walker pleaded guilty to six various charges:

  • Two counts of accessing a computer for dishonest purpose.
  • Two counts of accessing computer systems without authorization.
  • One count of damaging or interfering with computer systems.
  • One count of possessing software for committing a crime.

Maybe that "Baretta" theme song should have an extra verse added, something along the lines of: "Don't steal online if you can't pay the fine." Walker will be sentenced later this month. He faces as much as five years of prison time. Let's hope for the best and that he gets a harsh judge in a bad mood on sentencing day.

Have you or anyone else you know ever fallen victim to such online thievery? How about your organization? Send me the modern equivalent of the purloined letter and let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

IBM Runs Afoul of EPA
It wasn't because of the illegal dumping of old OS/2 packaging or anything typically associated with the Environmental Protection Agency, but IBM has definitely run afoul of the agency.

The EPA has temporarily suspended IBM from earning any future contracts with any federal agency, according to a statement released earlier this week from the EPA. The suspension was effective as of last week and can last indefinitely.

According the EPA's statement, the suspension will remain in effect as the agency "reviews concerns raised about potential activities involving an EPA procurement."

Regardless of how IBM raised the hackles of the EPA, there's apparently a reciprocal agreement between all federal agencies. Make one mad, you're banned from all of them. So this is a potentially huge deal until IBM and the EPA works this out.

Neither EPA nor IBM officials would discuss the dispute or violation, which is clearly associated with a contract bidding issue, not a garbage issue. IBM's slew of federal contracts, which are valued at well north of $1.3 billion, are still in effect.

This shuts down IBM's efforts to woo government contracts until it smoothes the EPA's feathers. We'll continue to report on this. In the meantime, are you associated with any government agencies? What's your solicitation or appropriation process like? We'd love to hear from any government workers involved in technology provisioning. You're not banned from checking in with me at llow@redmondmag.com.

Crime Doesn't Pay, Part 2
Crime never pays, but reporting it does. The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) paid out $22,500 in rewards last month to whistle-blowers reporting corporate software piracy.

The individual awards went out in March and ranged anywhere from $500 to $10,000. The award amounts are set to correspond with the dollar value of the settlements. The bounty ranges from $500 for settlements of up to $10,000 to as much as $1 million for cases with settlements exceeding $20 million. The SIIA has been doling out reward bucks since 2003.

"Corporate software piracy hurts American businesses, damages our economy and undercuts innovation and creativity," said Keith Kupferschmid, the SIIA's senior vice president of intellectual property policy and enforcement. "People who help track down corporate pirates play an important role in protecting businesses that play by the rules and ensuring the future competitiveness of our software industry."

Pirates in your midst? You can find out more about the SIIA's reward program or submit a piracy report by calling (800) 388-7478 or going to http://www.siia.net/piracy/report.

What are your thoughts on the SIIA's anti-piracy efforts? Have you ever checked in with them? What does your organization do when faced with software piracy? Let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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