WASHINGTON: A US District judge sentenced a Malaysian to 10 years in prison for hacking into the US Federal Reserve and other banks.
Lin Mun Poo, a Malaysian citizen, had admitted earlier this year to hacking into the US central bank, various private financial institutions and possessing stolen bank card and credit card numbers, officials said.
According to AFP, he also admitted to hacking into a Fed computer server and installing a malicious software code there.
Lin, who is from Ipoh, travelled to the United States in October last year “for the purpose of selling stolen credit card and bank card numbers” but a purchaser was in fact an undercover US agent, according to prosecutors.
When he was arrested, Lin held over 122,000 stolen bank card and credit card numbers.
The US Justice Department said Lin's “cybercrime activities also extended to the national security sector”, including hacking into the computer system of a Pentagon contractor that provides systems management services for military transport and other military operations.
“Today's sentence sends the message to hackers around the world that the United States is no place to conduct their business,” US Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement on Friday.
Dhillon Andrew Kannabhiran, founder and chief executive officer of hackers community Hack in The Box, said the stiff 10-year sentence was meant to deter hackers from hacking into government networks.
“Details of the case are not clear to me, but you can argue that 10 years for computer crime is harsh by any standards,” Dhillon told The Star.
“It's definitely a sentence which is meant to send a message.”
Dhillon said the hacker was “asking for trouble”.
“Hacking is a tool. Just like a knife can be used by a chef to prepare a meal or to stab someone. It is your motives that sets you apart. People who use their skills to commit financial fraud are not hackers, but just criminals,” he said.
Lin, according to a fellow hacker, deserved his punishment.
“Most hackers have the skills to breach a computer security system. But once you use your skills for malice, then you have committed a crime,” said a computer security consultant who wished to be identified as Sam.
“If you are caught, you deserve to be punished like any other criminal.”
Sam said most people with hacking expertise, like himself, were hired by companies to “test” their computer security system.
“Most of us use our skills to make a decent, legitimate living.”