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Cybercrime

British Hacker Sentenced for Blackmailing Apple

A British national was sentenced on Friday for attempting to blackmail Apple by claiming he was in possession of a large database of iCloud and other Apple accounts.

A British national was sentenced on Friday for attempting to blackmail Apple by claiming he was in possession of a large database of iCloud and other Apple accounts.

The man, Kerem Albayrak, 22, from North London, contacted Apple Security claiming to have access to details on millions of iCloud accounts. He demanded Apple pay him a ransom of $75,000 in cryptocurrency or a thousand $100 iTunes gift cards in exchange for deleting the database.

On March 12, 2017, Albayrak told Apple Security he would sell the database online and factory reset devices associated with 319 million iCloud accounts if the company refused to pay.

A week later, he posted on YouTube a video depicting him accessing two apparently random iCloud accounts, and sent the link to Apple and multiple media outlets.

Two days later, he announced that the ransom had increased to $100,000 and that he would factory reset every iCloud account in his possession unless Apple made the payment.

The Cupertino-based tech company contacted law enforcement in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

On March 28, 2017, the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) National Cyber Crime Unit arrested the man at his home in North London and seized various devices, including his phone, computers and hard drive.

During its investigation, the NCA established that Albayrak was acting as the spokesperson for the hacker group calling itself “Turkish Crime Family.”

Investigators also confirmed Apple’s findings that no network compromise had happened. The data Albayrak claimed to possess was from previously compromised third-party services, mostly inactive.

In early December, the miscreant pleaded guilty to one count of blackmail. Previously, he admitted to two counts of unauthorized acts “with intent to impair the operation of or prevent/hinder access to a computer,” the NCA said.

On Friday, Albayrak was sentenced to a two-year suspended jail term, as well as 300 hours of unpaid work, and a six month electronic curfew.

“Albayrak wrongly believed he could escape justice after hacking in to two accounts and attempting to blackmail a large multi-national corporation. During the investigation, it became clear that he was seeking fame and fortune. But cyber-crime doesn’t pay,” said Anna Smith, a senior investigative officer for the NCA.

Related: Three GozNym Malware Operators Sentenced

Related: U.K. Teen Responsible for Bomb Threats, DDoS Attacks Sentenced to Prison

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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