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What Were 2011's Biggest Hacker Busts?

Many prominent cybercriminals brought down this year

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
What Were 2011's Biggest Hacker Busts?While identity theft through cyber crimes has been on the rise in recent years, authorities have also done a better job of cracking down on those whose illegal activities affected large amounts of people.

A number of infamous and elusive hackers were brought to justice in the last year, according to a report from Dark Reading. One of the biggest busts was that of Ryan Cleary, a 19-year-old hacker who was working with the Anonymous and LulzSec collectives to bring down major British websites as a show of force. It was a dispute with members of Anonymous that led to exposure of his personal information, which was eventually used to bust him. Another LulzSec hacker, Cody Kretsinger, was also apprehended for his role in the hacking of Sony Pictures.

Meanwhile, Anonymous also had an inside man at AT&T, who is said to have given the collective tens of thousands of phone numbers in additional to login data for confidential servers, and other documentation that was used by the group in a data dump, the report said. That contractor, Lance Moore, was the only one of 20 in his group to access both the affected servers and the free data uploading site FileApe.

Another young hacker that got busted this year is Aaron Swartz, a fellow at Harvard University's Safra Center for Ethics, who downloaded (perhaps illegally) more than 4 million academic articles from the Massachusetts Institution of Technology using anonymous logins, the report said.

But perhaps a more important series of arrests was made in connection with the DNSchanger malware program, the report said. Vladimir Tsastsin, Timur Gerassimenko, Dmitri Jegorov, Valeri Aleksejev, Konstantin Poltev and Anton Ivanvov were apprehended in a bust experts say is one of the most important ever. The malware helped them steal more than $14 million worth of advertising views.

The man behind the infamous iPad hacking that took place when the tablet device was first released was also apprehended this year, the report said. Andrew Auernheimer of the Goatse Security group, exploited a flaw in Apple's security and gained access to 114,000 iPad users' email addresses, including celebrities and politicians. Christopher Chaney, another hacker who gained access to dozens of celebrities' email addresses, was also busted this year.

Ondrej Krehel, chief information security officer for Identity Theft 911, writes regularly about hackers on his official blog.

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