Hacker targeted firms with hidden viruses
EXPERT WORKING FROM MUM’S front room ACCESSED HIGHLY PERSONAL DATA
By Lauren Turner
A COMPUTER hacker from Moray accessed highly personal data and photographs as part of a sophisticated e-mail scam carried out from his mother’s front room, a court heard yesterday.
Matthew Anderson, 33, was a key member of an international gang who used his skills as a computer security expert to target businesses and individuals with spam containing hidden viruses.
He controlled victims’ web-cam devices remotely to see inside their homes, at one point boasting to a friend that he made a teenage girl cry by doing so.
Files saved on his own computer included webcam images of a girl in school uniform, a family photograph of a mother and her newborn baby in hospital and intimate pictures of a sexual nature, London’s Southwark Crown Court was told.
The father-of-five, of Parkhead Lodge, Drummuir, near Keith, also saved CVs, wills and confidential medical reports relating to a seven-year-old boy with autism.
Major national and international organisations, including Macmillan Publishers, the Toyota car company and the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, were targeted in what prosecutor Hugh Davies described as a “funda-mental breach of security”.
Anderson used a computer at his mother’s nearby home to compose and distribute millions of spam messages.
Part of the scam involved him sending spam e-mails to create business leads for a colleague, for which he was paid £12,800 in cash.
The messages sent to randomly selected victims were seemingly innocent but when opened they infected the computer system with a virus which could not be detected for about two days.
Anderson, who used online profile names including aobuluz and warpigs, operated behind the front of Optom Security, which offered security software online.
The court heard Anderson altered the computer of a teenage girl and accessed her webcam, telling a friend online that he took pictures of her crying. He wrote: “Had some chick on webcam. Changed her screen about a bit n she started to cry lol then she phoned her dad haha.”
Anderson, who admitted an offence under the Computer Misuse Act, will be sentenced today.
He was caught after an investigation by Scotland Yard and authorities in Finland.
Mr Davies said Anderson was “part of the top-end international hacking community where online reputations are made through exploiting vulnerabilities in software”.
In an interview, Anderson said: “The computers that I did this from did not come to any harm, I did not steal information from them, I wasn’t out to do identity theft or anything like that.”
Simon Ward, defending, said Anderson joined online chatrooms after being left housebound by panic attacks in his early 20s which resulted in him being treated with anti-depressants.
He said Anderson was motivated by “the feeling of power that comes from the knowledge that you have control over something that others don’t know you have the control of”.
He said his client had been a “foolish young man” who had now matured.
In October, Anderson admitted one charge of causing unauthorised modifications to the contents of computers between September 2005 and June 2006.
The offence was committed when Anderson was on bail for attacking the computer systems of the British National Party and the Countryside Alliance.
Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC remanded Anderson in custody until sentencing today.