Hacker linked to Target data breach gets 14 years in prison

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Latvian computer programmer was sentenced to 14 years in prison for designing a program that helped hackers improve malware – including some used in the 2013 Target breach.

Ruslan Bondars, a 37-year-old Latvian citizen, was found guilty at a May trial in Alexandria federal court, during which a co-conspirator revealed the pair had worked with Russian law enforcement.

Hackers used their “Scan4You” program to see if anti-virus programs would identify their software as malicious; it could be adapted into malware kits sold to cybercriminals. Bondars argued there are legal uses for the product and he was not responsible for when it was used illegally.

“Our position protects all online businesses; all online businesses have legitimate and illegitimate users,” defense attorney Jessica Carmichael said in court Friday.

“It’s an interesting theory,” Judge Liam O’Grady responded, but not one that applies in criminal cases. He told Bondars, “There’s zero chance that you didn’t know the harm being done by the malware hackers used your service to perfect.”

Prosecutors said it is common and perfectly legal to hold software developers liable for creating products that could be used for good as well as ill.

“The defendant apparently thinks he is unique in being charged for creating and selling a computer product that had theoretical lawful uses. He is not. Malware often has theoretical lawful uses,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen Dwyer wrote in his sentencing argument. ..Read More..

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