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'War Driving' Hacker Sentenced to 95 Months for Physical and Cyber Crimes

A Seattle man was sentenced on Friday to 95 months for a crime spree that was made for TV. Joshua Allen Witt, 35, pled guilty to four counts of fraud and one count of identity theft, stemming from a crime spree that lasted 30 months and involved more than 50 businesses and $3 million in stolen cash.

Specifically, Witt pled guilty to conspiracy to intentionally access a protected computer without authorization with intent to defraud; intentionally causing and attempting to cause damage to a protected computer and thereby causing loss in excess of $5,000; accessing a protected computer without authorization to further fraud; access device fraud; and aggravated identity theft.

Skype 5.9 and 5.10 for Windows, Skype 5.8 for Mac, Skype 4.0 for Linux, Skype 1.2 for Windows Phone, Skype 2.8 for Android, and Skype 4.0 for iOS are all impacted by the bug.  Man sentenced to 95 months for physical and cyber crimes At sentencing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said the crime impacted an enormous number of people. “For some of these individuals it will be years, if not a lifetime, to recover from the conduct you engaged in,” Jones added.

According to court records, Witt’s crime spree started in 2008, and continued into 2010, as he and two others “hacked the networks of more than a dozen businesses and burgled more than 40 businesses to steal equipment and obtain personal and business information used for fraud.”

They obtained credit card numbers from the thefts, and used them to purchase tens of thousands of dollars of high tech equipment and luxury goods that they used or sold. Moreover, they hijacked payroll information and send funds to accounts under their control, using to money to load pre-paid debit cards.

Part of their spree included breaking into businesses and stealing computer equipment in order to use it to hack into the company’s network. More brazenly, Witt and his pals outfitted at least one vehicle with equipment, including extensive antennas, allowing them to search for wireless networks ("Wardriving") that they could use both for hacking or to cover their tracks when they accessed a company network.

As mentioned, Witt’s plea earns him 95 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release. The other two men who helped him, John Earl Griffin and Brad Eugene Lowe, were previously sentenced to 95 and 78 months in prison respectively.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.