A former intern at security company FireEye Inc., who was arrested in 2015
after it was discovered he was one of the world’s top Android hackers, avoided a jail term at his sentencing hearing on Monday.
Twenty-year-old Morgan Culbertson stood accused of being the mastermind behind Dendroid, a form of malware that infects Android phones that can be used to steal data from the phone and control the device. Culbertson, who was selling Dendroid while at the same time working on Android malware security for FireEye, rented the malware to hackers for $300 a month complete with round-the-clock software support, or charged $65,000 to those who wished to purchase the source code instead.
According to reports
, Culbertson escaped a potential 16-month sentence and was instead sentenced to three years’ probation, computer monitoring and 300 hours of community service after being convicted of attempting and conspiring to cause damage to others’ phones. The soft sentence came after prosecutors acknowledged his lack of a criminal record and efforts to use his prodigious computer skills since being arrested. He was said to have helped develop language translation software for a major search engine firm and mobile malware security software for another company.
“I’m very sorry for what I did and I will be haunted by this for the rest of my life,” Culbertson told the judge.
Culbertson was one of 12 people arrested in the United States following the takedown of the notorious dark web hacking site Darkode in July 2015
. Others arrested in the raids were not as fortunate as Culbertson. Rory Stephen Guidry, 29, of Opelousas, Louisiana, got a sentence of a year and a day
on allegations that he ran a 5,000-computer botnet that stole bitcoin and credit card information.
Another man, 39-year-old Eric Crocker of Binghamton, New York, pleaded guilty in August 2015
to allegations that he used hacking tools called Facebook Spreader and Slenfbot to access at least 77,000 computers used by Facebook users. Crocker subsequently received two years’ probation on a sole charge laid under the CAN-SPAM Act.
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