Wed 19 Aug 2009
A Miami man, Albert Gonzalez, 28, his motto is “operation get rich or die trying”. Two Russians and Albert Gonzalez are being indicted for allegedly stealing 130 million credit card numbers, the largest identity theft in history. That’s a lot of credit card numbers — like, one for every housing unit in the United States. Just how did they do it?
The historic theft involved five corporate data hackings, between 2006 and 2008, including Heartland, Hannaford, 7-Eleven and two unnamed companies, according to Channel Web. US investigators say the team scanned lists of Fortune 500 companies and learned about their checkout counter machines (also known as point-of-sale systems).
Then they would write specific codes to corrupt their data systems and launch a virus from computers in the United States and Europe to pull hundreds and thousands of credit card numbers, and sort through them using a “sniffer,” which is basically a data analysis system that decodes big chunks of information.
So how much damage could these kind of hackings do? The group leader is already being prosecuted for stealing another 40 million credit card numbers from TJ Maxx and Marshall’s retailers, in a plot that has allegedly cost the companies about $400 million, according to the Washington Post.
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.
It absolutely blows me away by the size of it.