Criminal hacker who coded Mariposa botnet jailed in Slovenia

A hacker accused of masterminding one of the biggest ever botnets has been sentenced to just under 5 years in jail.

Matjaz Skorjanc was arrested in 2010 after a two-year investigation into malware that had hijacked about 12.7 million computers around the world.

The 27-year-old was found guilty of creating the Mariposa botnet software, assisting others in “wrongdoings” and money laundering…

In addition to the 58-month jail term, Skorjanc was also ordered to pay a €4,000 fine and give up a flat and car he was alleged to have bought with money he had received from a Spanish criminal syndicate.

The prosecutors in the case have said they also intended to challenge the Slovenian court’s ruling because they had wanted a tougher jail sentence of seven-and-a-half-years.

The former medical student’s ex-girlfriend Nusa Coh was also sentenced to eight months probation for money laundering…

The botnet got its name because it was created with software called ButterFly Flooder that was alleged to have been written by Skorjanc and advertised on the net as a way to “stress test” computer networks and remotely control Windows and Linux PCs.

Computers in more than 190 countries were infected by Mariposa, which spread by a variety of methods including via instant messages, peer-to-peer file-sharing systems and removable storage devices…

The scale of the problem led the FBI to team up with European law enforcement agencies, the Georgia Tech Information Security Center and other security experts to track down the perpetrators…

“I think the sentence is significant and will be remembered as a milestone in the prosecution of cybercrimes,” Keith Murphy, chief executive of Defence Intelligence told the BBC.

It’s a milestone among adults. Too many hackers still have an understanding of life and society barely beyond sophomoric. Little understanding of commerce and freedom of communication makes clowns like Skorjanc an ideal candidate for the NSA and the criminal clones aping their ideology around the world. He just happened to choose the overt variety of corruption and evil.

Nice to see something more than the slap-on-the-wrist style usually reserved for petit bourgeois anarchists and profiteers.

Computer pioneer Alan Turing pardoned posthumously

Queen Elizabeth II has pardoned Alan Turing, the father of modern computing, who was convicted of “gross indecency” for being gay, 61 years after he poisoned himself.

The Queen granted Turing, whose theories laid the foundation for the computer age and who broke the code which helped the Allies outfox the Nazis, an official pardon on Tuesday.

Turing, whose work on artificial intelligence still informs the debate over whether machines can think, was punished by Britain in the 1950s, when homosexuality was still a criminal offence.

“Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind,” Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said in a prepared statement released on Tuesday.

Describing Turing’s treatment as unjust, Grayling said the code breaker “deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science.”

Turing’s contributions to science spanned several disciplines, but he is perhaps best remembered as the architect of the effort to crack the Enigma code, the cypher used by Nazi Germany to secure its military communications…

Even before the war, Turing was formulating ideas that would underpin modern computing, ideas which matured into a fascination with artificial intelligence and the notion that machines would someday challenge the minds of man…

Turing made no secret of his sexuality, and being gay could easily lead to prosecution in post-war Britain.

In 1952, Turing was convicted of “gross indecency” over his relationship with another man, and he was stripped of his security clearance, subjected to monitoring by British authorities, and forced to take estrogen to neutralise his sex drive – a process described by some as chemical castration…

Turing committed suicide in 1954.

Overdue doesn’t begin to describe reversing the crimes the UK committed against one of the best scientific minds that ever lived. Of course, there still are some — here in the US as well as in Britain — who would repeat those contemptible crimes given the opportunity.

Which would probably get them a “reality” TV series.

Belief in God is down — evolution up!

science-v-spooky

Three-quarters of U.S. adults say they believe in God, down from 82 percent in 2005, 2007 and 2009, a Harris Poll indicates.

The Harris Poll found 57 percent of U.S. adult say they believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, down from 60 percent in 2005, and 72 percent say they believe in miracles, down from 79 percent in 2005, while 68 percent say they believe in heaven, down from 75 percent. Sixty-eight percent say they believe Jesus is God or the son of God, down from 72 percent; and 65 percent say they believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, down from 70 percent.

Forty-seven percent say they believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, compared to 42 percent in 2005.

The survey found 42 percent of adults say they believe in ghosts, 36 percent say they believe in creationism, 36 percent say they believe in UFOs, 29 percent say they believe in astrology, 26 percent say they believe in witches and 24 percent say they believe in reincarnation, or that they were once another person.

Just under 2-in-10 U.S. adults described themselves as very religious, with an additional 4-in-10 describing themselves as somewhat religious down from 49 percent in 2007. Twenty-three percent of Americans identified themselves as not at all religious, nearly double the 12 percent reported in 2007.

Cripes. If we keep this up we may catch up with the rest of the civilized Western World in a couple of decades or so. Too bad they left out who believes the Earth is flat.