Fraud and Identity Theft are not "Hacking"

[H]ard|OCP: Hacker gets record 13-year sentence for hacking.

Originally a haven for hardware hackers looking for advice on extreme overclocking, system cooling, gaming, and case modifications, you'd figure [H]ard|OCP would "get it", wouldn't you? At least one front page contributor doesn't.

I'm not one of the hopefuls that really thinks society will ever ditch its stigma against "the H word" but this story strikes several nerves for me, and continuing to sensationalize "hacking" like this is only part of it.

Max Butler (now known as Max Vision) got a whopper of a sentence, but it wasn't for "hacking," it was for multiple counts of wire fraud, identity theft, and transfer of stolen identity data. While Max undoubtedly had the mindset of a hacker for most of his life, his ethics (I'll get to that in a moment) made him a criminal. Although he was obviously brilliant and capable as a hacker, Max abused his skills to become a carder, a con man, and a low-life, deceptive criminal. Those are the things that got him into trouble. Criminals with little technical skill get busted for the same things.

More disturbing, though, is how Max came to the center of this vast arena of identity theft. With a troubled past, he emerged as a skilled security consultant with a bit of a naughty streak -- a habit that would get him thrown into the slammer (for computer fraud) after breaching government and military networks with a clever tool that would patch a well-known hole while leaving a back-door for him to use later. This is the kind disruptive mischief that used to be associated with "cyber criminals" years ago, putting him in the same arena as Robert Morris, Adrian "The Homeless Hacker" Lamo , and MafiaBoy, to an extent.

During this 18-month stay in the pokey, he would befriend the hardened career criminals who would eventually conspire with him to create genuine financial havoc, on par with the destructive forces of those responsible for the TJX and Heartland breaches.

What do I make of it? I'm not entirely sure. It's hard telling if Max Vision would have found collaborators outside of prison and ended up on the same path, or whether prison life genuinely corrupted him. I do know, however, that no one gets arrested for "hacking."

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