Julius Kivimaki, a 17-year-old from Finland, has been found guilty of 50.700 “instances of aggravated computer break-ins”, which affected Harvard University, MIT and a host of companies.
Given a two-year suspended prison sentence, his PC was confiscated and he was ordered to handover €6.588 worth of property obtained through his crimes.
Exploited vulnerabilities in software program
When he carried out his crimes throughout 2012 and 2013, Kivimaki exploited vulnerabilities in software called ColdFusion to hijack emails, block traffic to websites and steal credit card details.
He was able to install backdoors into tens of thousands of computers, which allowed him to retrieve information stored on them, adding malware to 1.400 servers. This led him to create a botnet, which he used to carry out denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on news websites like ZDNet and the chat tool Canternet.
Kivimaki was also accused of helping to steal seven gigabytes of data from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, costing them $213.000 (€192.718).
He also used this method to access accounts belonging to MongoHQ, a Californian website database provider, which allowed him to search billing and payment card information belonging to its clients and subsequently steal credit card information.
To think that a teenager – 15 and 16 at the time – could so thoroughly compromise so many companies is worrying.
Are your systems child-proof?
This is not the first time young hackers (ethical and criminal) have been in the news.
Seven-year-old Betsy Davies managed to hack a laptop via an open Wi-Fi network in just over ten minutes, having learned how to set up a rogue access point and eavesdrop on traffic in an online tutorial.
Marcus Dempsey, the ethical hacker who oversaw the demonstration, said:
“The results of this experiment are worrying but not entirely surprising. I know just how easily a layman can gain access to a stranger’s device, and in an age where children are often more tech-literate than adults, hacking can literally be child’s play”.
Strengthen your cyber security practices
Businesses throughout Europe are being actively encouraged to strengthen their cyber security now and not wait until the GDPR is in place.
“Hackers won’t wait,” says founder and executive chairman of IT Governance Alan Calder. “If they see a vulnerability in your organisation, they will act on it. Businesses across Europe need to get their systems up to date with the most comprehensive information security management system standard in the world – ISO 27001.
“Implemented by thousands of businesses worldwide, the requirements found in this standard provide a holistic approach to information security, covering people, processes and technology.”
Organisations that have an ISO 27001-compliant information security management system (ISMS) will also have a solid framework for supporting adherence to the GDPR when it does come into effect.
ISO 27001 solutions
European organisations can now implement the Standard and achieve ISO 27001 certification for as little as €530 with our ISO 27001 packaged solutions, full of standards, books, toolkits, software, training and online consultancy.