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Botnet Spammer Gets Just 18 Months For Being Odd 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the people-are-strange dept.
itwbennett writes "Thirty-three-year old Scottsman Matthew Anderson was sentenced this week to 18 months in prison for orchestrating a malicious Trojan campaign in 2006. The reason for his relatively light sentence? He apparently wasn't seeking to maximize profit like any normal, red-blooded hacker. Also, his timing was good. His arrest in June 2006 predated by a matter of months the Police and Justice Act, which would likely have resulted in a harsher sentence. By comparison, David Kernell, who snooped in Sarah Palin's email, got a year in prison."
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Botnet Spammer Gets Just 18 Months For Being Odd

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @05:32PM (#34336976)

    There's nary a court in the world that can outsmart a greased Scotsman!

    • Jeepers! (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Spammer Gets Just 18 Months For Being Odd

      In Scotland, you can go to jail for being odd?

      I guess an odd Scotsman would be one who doesn't wear a skirt, throw telephone poles for no particular reason, pick drunken fights with cows and trees or eat stuff that most people would rather throw away.

      • by Xaedalus (1192463) <Xaedalys@yaho[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @06:48PM (#34337626)

        What you've described is a normal Scotsman. An odd Scotsman wouldn't wear anything below the waist at all-not even trousers, be on the receiving end of a tossed telephone pole for no particular reason, deliver Glaswegian kisses to cows and trees while sober, and not only would refuse to eat anything that didn't already have sheep, potatoes, turnips, or sod in it, he'd also refrain from alcohol in all its forms. Nor would he know how to play golf.

        In retrospect, it's probably the total abstainment from alcohol that would mark a Scotsman as being 'odd'. Everything else would probably get overlooked or forgiven.

        • and not only would refuse to eat anything that didn't already have sheep, potatoes, turnips, or sod in it,

          Cooks Source has now declared your recipe for Haggis to be "public domain," since you posted it on the Internet tubes.

          he'd also refrain from alcohol in all its forms.

          Alcohol is the most important ingredient in Scottish cooking. If you get enough of that before dinner; preferably from Islay, like Laguvalin or Bowmore, you won't give a damn how the food tastes.

          DISCLAIMER: On my mother's side, both grandparents were from Scotland. Grandma (Nana) from Aberdeen, and Grandpa from Dundee. Relatives in Scotland sent me comics from Oor Wullie, The Broons a

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      There's nary a court in the world that can outsmart a greased Scotsman!

      Did he put hot stuff on the Trojan?

  • by Rashkae (59673) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @05:37PM (#34337024) Homepage

    How long does a year last in your world?

    • He's using the Martian calendar silly.
    • by mikaelwbergene (1944966) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @06:01PM (#34337276)
      From TFA: "Anderson will be up for parole after half his sentence has been served and faces punishment other than a £5,000 ($8,000) fine. By comparison, the US youth who hacked the email account of Sarah Palin in 2008 recently received a year in an open prison for much less serious hacking of a small amount of private data from one person." They're not simply comparing the time, but the punishment based on severity of said crime. One figures out Sarah Palins email using simple methods and gets a full year. The other orchestrates a malicious botnet attack and only gets a little longer at a year and a half. In that sense, he is being punished quite lightly.
  • Questioning the suspect only cost $5
    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Hey now, it's Scotland, so use Scottish currency.

      The equivalent is 2 healthy sheep and a bolt of Tartan cloth.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @05:40PM (#34337062)

    Take a look at his crimes without the veil of judgment. He did some pretty neato stuff.

    He found a way to run his code on a huge number of computers without the owners knowing at all.
    He learned how to control the PC cameras of those computers and had "eyes" everywhere.
    He ran this all from his mom's tiny little living room.

    He's a modern-day phracker. He's doing stuff that is way out there, taking over peoples' PCs, controlling their systems, and he did it all for the love of technology. If he was alive 30 years ago, he'd have been whistling into the handset receivers of payphones to get free long distance from Ma Bell.

    Yes, we need to condemn him because he crossed the line. Genius should be tempered with good sense, and it looks like he got carried away with what he *could* do and didn't contemplate hard enough on what he *shouldn't* do. However, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. His heart is in the right place. What he needs is better guidance.

    • Remember that time we had a school in Philadelphia taking webcam pictures? Good times.
    • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @06:02PM (#34337292) Homepage
      I suppose we all forget how many people went to jail even back then. I knew at least a half-dozen, personally. PS did people use the word 'phracker'? I don't seem to remember that one. You sure you didn't just invent it?
    • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @06:26PM (#34337450)
      However, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. His heart is in the right place. What he needs is better guidance.

      Shweet jumped up jebus.
      His heart was not in the right place. He ran a botnet distributing malware. Malware for data theft. Surveillance on people using infected PCs. Infected by him. He knew precisely what he was doing.
      But yes...lets glorify the poor, misunderstood dude working in his mom's living room.
      'neato stuff' indeed. YGBSM. You know...there are ways to learn how to do that without abusing innocent civilians.

      "Crossed the line" is an understatement. And this gets modded up, or recommended for a job.
      • Now there you go being all judgmental.

        If your heart was in the right place, you wouldn't so rudely intrude with reality.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:10PM (#34339224)

        They have this view that, when it comes to computers, if they CAN do something, as in it is technically possible for them to do it, that makes it ok to do and means it ought to be legal. Breaking in to a system that has a weak password or lacks a security fix is fine in their view because that person is "stupid" and "deserves it". Of course none of them would be ok with someone breaking in to their house, even though like basically everyone they live in houses with known security vulnerabilities.

        Hence why they are ok with a guy like this. They are ok with someone who breaks in to others' systems and abuses them because their ego says that only stupid people can be victims and the victims deserve it.

        It is a sadly common view on this site.

    • by Kaz Kylheku (1484)

      Take a look at his crimes without the veil of judgment. He did some pretty neato stuff.

      He found a way to run his code on a huge number of computers without the owners knowing at all.

      No, he just used the existing Microsoft "API" for doing all this.

    • You know that setting up a rootkit is only about 1 step up from Script Kiddie, right?

      Download a crack for any Adobe CS product.
      Write an app that opens a port and listens, taking in strings and running them through at the console, so like a hidden command prompt.
      Make it send a single request back to a server you control.
      Package your new web service inside the cracked installation file.
      Put up for fileshare - wait a week.

      You then have root access and the IP's to use it.

      You can also substitute that second step

    • This is why I like ya, BadAnalogyGuy.
  • And Mafiaboy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @05:40PM (#34337064) Journal

    Who took down numerous big name websites, was sentenced to eight months of "open custody," one year of probation, restricted use of the Internet, and a small fine.

    Lets face it, you can't properly gauge the sentence with the crime - too many other factors come into play that the judges are supposed to try and account for. Intent, remorse, etc etc - all play factors.

    • Well, there was also no precedent at the time. If he did the same thing today it would net a harsher sentence.
  • From TFA...

    He carried out the crimes from a PC in his mother's living room

    Basement living room?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @05:45PM (#34337128)

    Thirty-three-year old Scottsman Matthew Anderson was sentenced this week to 18 months in prison for orchestrating a malicious Trojan campaign in 2006.... By comparison, David Kernell, who snooped in Sarah Palin's email, got a year in prison.

    Matthew Anderson and David Kernell live, committed their offences and were tried in different countries to one another. Why on earth would you expect their sentences to be comparable?

    Next.. libel laws in England harsher than in the US! Owners of internet gambling sites that are lawful in other countries face imprisonment in US! Producing the same drug can get you anywhere from a governement contract to a stern warning to imprisonment to execution depending on which country you pick. Hello, welcome to the world.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Hello, welcome to the world.

      Despite this, many retain a youthful and naive vision that perhaps, someday, the world will make sense and be fair. While we laugh at them as foolish, we should perhaps remember that when they were children, executives were laughing at the idea of a personal computer and IBM predicted a world market for them of perhaps a dozen.

      • They're naive and foolish because they still believe that "fair" is somehow an objective concept, not because it's too difficult. What I find fair isn't what you find fair, and the inverse is true. And unless you can find a scientific method to determine what is fair, this will always happen.

    • Why on earth would you expect their sentences to be comparable?

      Some shared commonsense notion of justice?
      I jest.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not sure that's the most crucial distinction.

      David Kernell was stupid enough to go after someone with power.

  • For God's sake (Score:3, Insightful)

    by colinRTM (1333069) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @05:58PM (#34337252)

    It's spelled 'Scotsman', not 'Scottsman'.

    A little proof-reading wouldn't go amiss.

  • Grammmerz (Score:2, Funny)

    by goldaryn (834427)

    "Thirty-three-year (1) old Scottsman (2) Matthew Anderson was sentenced this week (3) to 18 months in prison for orchestrating a malicious Trojan (4) campaign in 2006. The reason for his relatively light sentence? He apparently wasn't seeking to maximize profit like any normal, red-blooded hacker. Also, his timing was good (5). His arrest in June 2006 predated (6) by a matter of months the Police and Justice Act, which would likely have resulted in a harsher sentence. By comparison, David Kernell, who snooped in Sarah Palin's email, got a year in prison."

    Let's play match the errors to the numbers, kids!

    * Imaginary country
    * Split infinitive
    * Partial sentence
    * Missing hyphen, implications of being a predator
    * Oh, look! That hyphen reappeared

    And my personal favourite:

    * Hilarious capitalisation making it sound as though protagonist is leading an actual historical faction

  • is that the profit motive is evil.

    Commit some act to maximize profit, get a harsh sentence. Commit exactly the same act without profit motive, get a light sentence.

    If the profit motive adds N months to a sentence for some act, then by the most straightforward, linear morality arithmetic, this means that simply having a profit motive in the absence of committing any act is in and of itself a crime punishable by N months.

    Nice communist values there.

    • by Galvatron (115029)

      I don't think the intent is to equate profit motive with evil, it's to recognize that people with different motives need different incentives to be rehabilitated. A criminal with a profit motive is likely performing some sort of a cost/benefit analysis. Increase the punishment, and the criminal will be deterred from re-offending (and potential criminals may be deterred from offending at all).

      Criminals without a profit motive, however, are a harder nut to crack. Maybe they have poor impulse control, or ha

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kaz Kylheku (1484)

        If criminals without a profit motive are a harder nut to crack, maybe they need to be punished more severely, not less, one would think.

        I don't see why premeditated murder should be treated differently from a crime of passion. Murder is murder.

        A crime of passion is in fact planned. A person knows exactly under what circumstances he would kill, and does so when circumstances arise which fit that pattern. Merely, such a killer perhaps does not think /specifically/ about a given situation. Thinking like ``I wo

        • by Galvatron (115029)

          A "harder nut to crack" as in a more complex issue. I think that was pretty clear in context. A criminal who, as in this case, did something for the mere excitement of it may be dissuaded from future offenses once he sees that his actions have consequences, and a slap on the wrist may be sufficient to accomplish that. Or he may be irredeemable, and may need to spend the rest of his life locked up. Prisons serve (or are meant to serve) many purposes: reform, rehabilitation, and deterrence, as well as sim

    • by mutube (981006)

      Maybe it's a multiplier?

      I think it's a fair judgement that a crime committed for profit is worse than one committed out of curiosity. Less communist, more egalitarian.

  • My favorite part (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Danieljury3 (1809634)
    "As this case shows, criminals can't hide online and are being held to account for their actions. A complex investigation like this demonstrates what international cooperation can achieve," said Detective Constable Bob Burls of the UK Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), neatly ignoring the fact that few online criminals are ever caught and it has taken over four years to sentence Anderson.
  • Kernell was the victim of a political hit job, this guy ran a botnet that resulted in no profit.

    Wide difference.

  • Is he from Scottland? Oh dear, Google maps tells me there's no such place!
  • .. he replied "I dinna come forward because in this country, it makes you look like a pervert -- but _every_ single Scottish person does it!"
  • I know the spammer got off lightly by comparison because he attacked more than one and a half computers and accounts... still, in the summary it would be honest to use consistent units - 18 months, 12 months.

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