On Thursday, notorious computer hacker Albert Gonzalez (aka SoupNazi) was sentenced to 20 years in prison. That is the longest sentence ever to be slapped on someone for hacking. He was accused of targeting a bunch of retail stores in the U.S. including Barnes & Noble, BJ's Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, The Sports Authority and TJ Maxx to name a few. According to Law.com, on September 11, 2009 [ironically] this cyber terrorist pleaded guilty to several counts of computer fraud, wire fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. It was believed that Gonzalez would hack into and steal information from the computer systems of Heartland Payment systems, a company that handles the processing of credit and debit card payments for national retailers. He would then use this stolen information to hack into physical stores by driving up to them and accessing their wireless networks, then plating a virus that would give me access to customer names and credit card numbers.
Oddly enough Gonzalez used to be a Secret Service informant. Kind of makes me wonder what kind of judgment our government uses and who they trust. After already serving 22 months in prison and before being sentenced Gonzalez told Judge Patti Saris of the District of Massachusetts "I had a government agency that believed in me. I threw it away, not because of egoism or greed, but because of my inability to stop my curiosity and my addiction. I have no one to blame but myself."
Albert Einstein once warned “Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.” No doubt WiFi security needs to be beefed up and taken more seriously. But then again hackers have always been able to gain access. Wireless just makes it less ‘physical’.