Teen hacker admits cyber crime charges

A Whitianga teenager, allegedly at the centre of a cyber crime ring causing millions of dollars of damage, admitted six computer crime charges when he appeared in Thames District Court today.

Owen Thor Walker, 18, who has Asperger's syndrome, was accused by the FBI of being 'Akill' - leading a group of international programmers that set up a 'botnet' which infected a million computers with a virus and resulted in an estimated $NZ26 million-plus of economic loss.

A botnet is a network of hacked computers that can be controlled by a single computer via the internet.

Although some of the charges Walker was convicted of today carry maximum sentences of five years' imprisonment, Judge Arthur Tompkins indicated he was not considering jailing Walker.

In remanding him on bail to May 28 for pre-sentence and reparation reports, Judge Tompkins said the pre-sentence report would cover home detention, community detention, community work and a fine.

He said he would not specify what the sentencing outcome would be.

Walker's lawyer Tony Balme, of Tauranga, told the court he expected sentencing would take about an hour because there were some "complicated reparation issues".

Walker pleaded guilty to two charges of accessing a computer for dishonest purpose, damaging or interfering with computer systems, possessing software for committing crime, and two charges of accessing computer systems without authorisation.

All charges were laid under computer provisions of the Crimes Act.

The police summary of facts, which was not (not) read out in court, said Walker's parents knew he was making money out of his internet activity.

"He had told them he was contracted to do computer programming and they didn't realise he was engaged in illegal activity," the statement said.

Walker was arrested after an 18-month investigation by New Zealand police, in collaboration with the FBI and Dutch authorities.


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