A hacker from the United States charged with breaking into computers using the Darkode hacking forum pleaded guilty in the US District Court.
According to the prosecutors, the hacker, Erik Crocker, pleaded guilty in court of violating the CAN-SPAM Act of 2013, which is a federal law regarding violations of internet communication. He admitted that he and others broke into computers using the Darkode hacking forum.
The sentence will be set on November 23rd this year. It is believed that Crocker faces up to 3 years in jail, a fine 250,000 dollars or maybe even both.
“I actually feel really terribly about what I did” Crocker said.
Erik Crocker, aged 39, is one of the 12 people charged with hacking into computers in July, this year, when the United States authorities managed to dismantle the Darkode hacking forum with help from international law enforcements.
Crocker lives in Binghamton, New York and went by the name of “Phastman” online. He is believed to have broken into at least 77,000 computers, using an online hacking forum called Darkode. The authorities say he used a Facebook Spreader, which is a hacking tool that enabled him to break into computers, even if they were protected.
The malware spread fast because the infected accounts on people’s computers were programmed to send a file to their whole address list. After that, their friends would receive a downloadable file that would infect their computers as soon as they clicked on it.
In order to make money, the hackers would sell access to the computers they have broken into. People interested in sending out commercial messages would pay around 200 or 300 dollars for every 10,000 infected computers that they had access to.
Ads would run on infected computers and they could even replace legit ads. This way, companies would be sure their messages were able to reach the public.
The United States Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh and the Federal Bureau of Investigation led an in-depth operation to track down the Darkode hackers. Operation Shrouded Horizon became an international investigation and nations worked together to shut down the online forum for cybercriminals.
Last month, the Darkode online forum was finally shut down and 12 people were charged after being linked to the site. The charges were announced by David Hickton, an United States attorney. He called the website “a cyber-hornet’s nest of criminal hackers”.
Photo credits: V3.co.uk