Hackers dodge prison by helping police

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The hackers behind a highly damaging strain of malware have dodged prison by agreeing to assist the FBI in cybercrime investigations.

In a story reminiscent of Catch Me If You Can, the FBI have employed the services of come criminal hackers for “substantial assistance in other complex cybercrime investigations,” according to the US Department of Justice.

The hackers in questions – who were responsible for the infamous Mirai botnet – avoided prison sentences as a result of lending their services to the FBI. Not a bad deal considering the damage done by the malware they created.

Jake Moore, ESET Security Specialist, believes that making use of criminals hackers knowledge and skill could be beneficial, he does however advise caution.

“The idea of the FBI employing convicted criminal hackers sounds like a perfect tagline for a movie yet it’s not too farfetched when it comes as a way of injecting young hacker knowledge and enthusiasm into an arguably behind the times law enforcement body.

“Putting hackers inside the government seems at first a wildly unorthodox idea, but when it is broken down it could be argued as a far cheaper option on public money. 

“Although law enforcement lacks money and young blood, it does need updating with ethical hacking techniques that could be time consuming to teach the older generations, not to mention it is a far more inviting and romanticised option than jail time for the criminals.

“There is always a threat that fresh faced hackers would desire being placed on the payroll after an attack but this can’t happen to the majority.

“Being vetted to work in highly confidential areas of law enforcement is a serious procedure and can be highly intrusive.

“In my previous role investigating highly confidential computer forensics for the police even put me and my loved ones in interviews to talk aspects such as finances in fear of corruption.

“So when hiring potentially unknowns purely down to their skills, there will always be a risk attached – but like anything in cyber security, it’s about weighing up that risk.”

What do you think of government departments making use of criminal hackers’ expertise? Let us know on Twitter @ESETUK.