Ipswitch Blog

TJX Hacker Gets 20 Years – Right Sentence?

| March 25, 2010 | Secure File Transfer

Convicted TJX hacker Albert Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years in prison today for leading a gang of cyberthieves who stole more than 90 million credit and debit card numbers from TJX and other retailers.  The sentence for the largest computer-crime case ever prosecuted is the lengthiest ever imposed in the U.S. for hacking or identity-theft.

I had some thoughts around the sentence:

  • It’s an acknowledgment that the government isn’t seeing this as an isolated/ individual action; the government recognizes a true crime organization issue on par with any other type of organized crime without the guns and violence… yet.
  • Given some of the emerging detail around the Google/ China incident and the rise in cyber terrorism, raising the bar with sentences like this may detract some future “hackers”.
  • Many of the cyber gangs don’t do it for the money; this wasn’t the case with Gonzalez. The idea of taking 15 million dollars to buy a yacht is seen as no different than if he had robbed a bank at gunpoint. What hasn’t been solved is how do you catch, prosecute and make an example of the cyber gangs that aren’t in it for the money?
  • Gonzalez was given an opportunity to provide valuable information on other people, organizations and methods being used for cybercrime. He choose to be a double agent. This probably did not sit well with the judge.

What’s your take?  Too long a sentence?  Not long enough?  Will this deter future hackers?  I’d love to hear from you.

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Reader Comments

  1. Much more powerful sentence than I had expected. I just hope it is the just decision – and nothing like those RIAA fiascos which were more to make a point than to properly punish. It should raise some eyrbrows though – as this is clearly a much heavier crime than hosting some music files.

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Ipswitch helps solve complex IT problems with simple solutions. The company’s software has been installed on more than 150,000 networks spanning 168 countries to monitor networks, applications and servers, and securely transfer files between systems, business partners and customers. Ipswitch was founded in 1991 and is based in Lexington, Massachusetts with offices throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America.