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Computer hackers (Jordan and Andrew) jailed
Computer hackers jailed
Friday October 7, 2005
Two British computer hackers were today jailed for a total of nine months after their attempts to create their own secure internet chatroom prompted a global cyber crime investigation. In an attempt to make their chatroom more secure, Andrew Harvey and Jordan Bradley created a form of virus, known as a worm, which replicated itself and affected thousands of computers around the world.
Bradley, 22, of Sherburn, Co Durham, and 24-year-old Harvey, of nearby Darlington, admitted conspiracy to cause unauthorised modification of computers with intent between December 2001 and February 2003.
Newcastle crown court accepted that the duo had not used the TK worm virus, or its capabilities, for "nefarious" purposes. However, Adrian Waterman, prosecuting, told the court that although the number of computers affected could not be exactly quantified, it was known that around 19,000 had been infected. Damage was estimated at around £14,000.
"The real threat of this TK worm is not the damage caused by it but the fact the worm, by its very nature, provides access to and control of someone else's computer," Mr Waterman said. "Harvey and Bradley, along with others, were doing what they do because of the control it gave them, not with an end purpose in mind."
Judge Beatrice Bolton said a custodial sentence had to be imposed to serve as a public warning. Harvey was jailed for six months, while Bradley was sentenced to three.
A worm allows hackers to use free space and bandwidth from other computers for their own purposes, and also to access sites.
Following an investigation by officers from the UK's national hi-tech crime unit (NHTCU) and the US multi-agency computer and technology crime hi-tech response team, based in southern California, Bradley and Harvey were arrested in February 2003.
A 21-year-old US man, Raymond Stegerwalt, was also arrested in 2003. He was sentenced to 21 months in jail and ordered to pay restitution costs of £12,000 to the US defence department, some of whose computers were affected by the worm.
Once connected to the internet, the infected computer then connected to a number of computers under the control of hackers, known as the "THr34t Krew", who were able to send commands to the infected hosts.
These commands ranged from scanning other computers for vulnerabilities to starting "distributed denial of service" attacks on other computers and websites.
Robin Patton, defending Harvey, told the court: "His belief was that they needed this to run their own internet chatroom. If they had had some other intention, we would have seen it. He said neither defendant had shown "the slightest intention to be malicious".
Wayne Jackman, representing Bradley, said: "The court should not fall into the trap of seeing this case as more than it actually is. We should keep our collective feet firmly on the ground and not get involved in playing out a science fiction game.
"Jordan Bradley does not paint the picture of the classic cyber criminal. He was playing online, and this is where he finds himself now."
Judge Bolton told the men: "I accept the reason for this worm activity is power and ego to see how far you could get. This worm was capable of doing a lot more than you did with it.
"It's to your credit that you did not use the worm for the dreadful purposes you could have, but you demonstrated the power it had over a large number of computers."
Reacting to the sentence, Detective Superintendent Mick Deats, the deputy head of the NHTCU, said: "Our task is to track down those people who seek to hamper companies by reducing their ability to do business, and I hope that these sentences deliver a tough message."
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