Cypriot convicted of e-mail hacking committed as a teenager

Written by Shannon Vavra

A 22-year-old Cypriot boy has been sentenced to one year in prison after pleading guilty to computer fraud conspiracy and computer fraud for hacking and extorting websites for money, the Ministry of Justice said on Thursday. Justice.

The Cypriot, Joshua Polloso Epifaniou, exploited security loopholes to steal sensitive personal information from user and customer databases between October 2014 and November 2016, when he was a teenager living with his mother, according to the Ministry of Justice. Epifaniou used the stolen information to log into email accounts and send messages to victims’ websites demanding ransom and threatening to disclose sensitive data.

Epifaniou also obtained information on the targets of a co-conspirator who had previously hacked the websites.

Epifaniou targeted a sports news website owned by Turner Broadcasting System in Georgia, a computer hardware company in New York City, an online games publisher in California, a consumer reporting website in Arizona, and a website. jobs located in Virginia, according to the DOJ.

In coordination with the Cybercrime Office of the Cypriot Police, Epifaniou, the first Cypriot national to be extradited from Cyprus to the United States, was sentenced to prison.

Epifaniou will serve one year and one day in prison, in addition to the credit he has already received for having served three years and 10 months before sentencing. Epifaniou has already paid $ 600,000 in compensation to the victims, and the confiscation of $ 389,113 and 70,000 euros from the government.

Teenage hackers are often accused of committing cybercrime. Just this week, a Florida teenager pleaded guilty to being behind the scheme that hijacked prominent Twitter accounts last year in an attempt to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Some European authorities have taken a different approach to teenage hackers and, instead of threatening suspected first-time offenders with legal consequences, they offer community service and computer ethics training. The program, known as Hack_Right, has been running on an experimental basis in the UK and the Netherlands since 2018, as part of the recognition that teens can hack to show off to their friends without knowing the extent of the legal consequences they may face. if they are caught, and give them a second chance.

A sister program to Hack_Right, called Cyber ​​Offender Prevention Squad, is launched in Europe this year with a focus on targeting teens at risk of cybercrime before they do, and educating and training them. informing about piracy laws and alternative ways they can use their skills. .

The 18-year-old accused in the Twitter case, Graham Ivan Clark, will serve three years in a juvenile institution. Prosecutors said it would give him a chance to mend.

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June J. Lopez

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