Hacker Indicted For Stealing 130 Million Credit Cards

A Miami resident and two unnamed co-conspirators have been indicted for hacking major retailers and stealing credit card data.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

August 17, 2009

2 Min Read

A federal grand jury has indicted Albert Gonzales, 28, of Miami, Fla., for allegedly hacking into computers belonging to retail and financial companies and stealing more than 130 million credit and debit cards.

Gonzales, known online by the nicknames "segvec," "soupnazi" and "j4guar17," and two unidentified co-conspirators located in or near Russia, are charged with conducting SQL injection attacks on corporate computer networks.

The U.S. Department of Justice says the indictment represents the largest data breach indictment ever brought in the United States.

"This investigation marks the continued success of law enforcement in tracking down cutting edge hacking schemes committed by hackers working together across the globe," said Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr. in a statement.

The companies hit by the alleged hackers are known for being compromised in some of the biggest data breaches in recent years have been reported. They include: Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven, and Hannaford Brothers.

Two other major U.S. retail companies are mentioned in the indictment but they are identified only has "Company A" and "Company B," presumably because they are not under an obligation to publicly report the breaches attributed to the alleged hackers.

Gonzales was indicted in New York in May, 2008, and in Massachusetts in August, 2008, for alleged involvement in the theft of over 40 million credit and debit cards from other companies including TJX Companies, BJ's Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, Boston Market, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, Forever 21, DSW and the Dave & Buster's restaurant chain.

He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

The indictment claims Gonzales and alleged co-conspirators relied on sophisticated techniques to avoid detection, like connecting to corporate computers through proxy servers, testing approximately 20 different antivirus programs to determine whether their malware might be detected, and using malware that attempted to erase signs of its presence.

The defendants face a possible sentence of up to 35 years in prison and either $1 million or twice any ill-gotten gains in fines if convicted.

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About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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