How They Caught Top Hackers

Most cyber-criminals are never caught. It's a high-reward, low-risk area of crime. Cyber-thieves don't typically drain bank accounts, they steal a nickel here, a dollar there from thousands and thousands of users, and almost nobody is going to go file a police report over seventy eight cents, and if they do, it's not going to be a high priority for law-enforcement. Changing your MAC address regularly makes it almost impossible to trace a hacker through the web, and physically capturing a hacker in the act isn't easy.

And yet, hackers do get caught now and then.

The question is: How?

Bragging

Sometimes hackers just can't shut up about it, as was the case with a hacker from Anonymous who apparently needs to reread the first chapter of the dictionary. John Anthony Borell III had some fun hacking into the website of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association and the SLC Police Department. He would have gotten away with it too except... he went and took credit for it on Twitter. Other hackers, like "Sabu" got caught after bragging about their dirty deeds in IRC chatrooms. A lot of hackers are in it for the thrill, not the financial reward, and they simply need for others to recognize how clever they are. Sort of like The Riddler in the old Batman TV series: He'd never spend a day in jail if he'd learn to stop leaving clues behind.

Blind Ambition

Some hackers simply don't know to quit while they're ahead, like Albert Gonzalez. Gonzalez ran a website where hackers could sell stolen credit card numbers, passports and other sensitive information. After an arrest for credit card fraud, he signed up for Operation Firewall as a key informant. This earned him immunity and a job offer from the Secret Service. So of course, with the Secret Service now keeping tabs on him, what was Gonzalez to do but partner with Ukrainian hacker Maksik and start swiping credit cards, and then start driving BMW's into work at the Secret Service.

Fame

When you're too high-profile, the fame alone will do you in. This is what happened to Kevin Pulsen, known as Dark Dante in the late 80's online scene. Poulsen used to hack government documents, leaking wiretap details on foreign leaders, the mafia and the ACLU. His abilities were so impressive that he actually knocked out Unsolved Mysteries' phone lines when they did a feature on him. All the same, the episode made him famous, and he was recognized in a supermarket, leading to his arrest.

Source http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/hacker-brags-on-twitter/462620 http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-17302656

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