Hello there and welcome to my latest infosec article! This time I thought that I would write about something a little different and focus on some of the most notorious/famous hackers in the world and tell you about them.
This story is about Owen Walker a.k.a AKILL
November 2007, the search for one of New Zealand’s biggest hackers was ending. Owen “AKILL” Walker, 28 years old today, has admitted involvement with an international network responsible for 6 major cyber attacks around the world.
Walker lived in Hamilton, northern New Zealand, with his parents. He had been suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome since childhood, a type of autism that makes coexistence difficult for people with intelligence in certain areas, such as Satoshi Tajiri, who could not recognize the emotional gestures of people.
From the age of 13, AKILL, as he was called online, wrote codes for fun. He had no training in computing, he was a self-taught.
From the age of 17, the robberies began. It was primarily responsible for the creation of the Akbot virus, a botnet responsible for infecting and controlling approximately 1.3 million computers used to attack specific targets.
This unique encrypted virus was undetectable by anti-virus programs, according to police. This code allowed access to user names and passwords of Internet users, as well as to credit card numbers.
A botnet is a set of networked machines, with bots that communicate and interact with some specific goal, usually autonomously.
In April 2008, Owen admitted he was the leader of a hacking organization and has led attacks around the world. The latest one, an attack that toppled the entire University of Pennsylvania computer network (2007), using servers he exploited and rented, the majority of which were located in Malaysia, leading to research losses.
He made a total of US$ 32,000, since it only wrote the codes for other members of the gang to steal the money. Of this group, 13 members are still unknown and more attacks are tied to this group.
The court case came to an end with Owen avoiding the conviction. Instead he had to pay US$11,000 in costs and damages.
The population was not satisfied with the court’s resolution and the places affected by the attacks too. Even against popular appeal, the decision was made and Owen went on to help the police forces in future attacks.
As mentioned by Matthew Humphries in Geek.com:
When considering the outcome you have to remember Owen was a minor when he committed the crimes. The decision is a punishment, but also sends out a mixed signal to onlookers.
After his release, Owen was hired by TelstraClear, a New Zealand communications company. As a security consultant, he presented seminars and appeared in advertising. TelstraClear spokesman Chris Mirams said it was not the equivalent of hiring a bank robber to advise on bank security.
Nowadays, he continues to provide security consulting services and helps the government to prevent and detect cyber attacks.
Author: Gabriel Duarte
Image by [Metin Sven](Low Poly Hacker by Metin Sven)