World of Warcraft has certainly, and quite literally, taken on a life of its own. For a while now, building up and selling Warcraft credits for actual money has been a growth industry in China. I haven’t heard of many stories in which anyone answered for that, though, until now. Last week, the leader of a Chinese Warcraft fence and his nine accomplices were fined and sentenced to prison for buying and selling user logins on the black market.
The group didn’t actually hack anyone’s accounts—they just, you know, bought them on the black market. Apparently, they purchased the logins for $1 and sold the money and assets of each of those accounts for $3. Nice. Except for it being illegal and everything. The law they broke prohibits intrusive access of “ordinary computer systems.” At the end of the day, the group flipped 11,500 accounts and made more than $10,000.
The group’s leader will spend two years in jail and pay an $8,000 fine. The rest got a little less than two years and $1,000 in fines. And the police took the money they made and all their sweet technology. Hmm. At first I thought that sentence sounded light, and then I thought it sounded pretty reasonable. The U.S. has similar laws, with minor offenses receiving as little as a few months of probation or at maximum, 20 years in jail.
I wonder how exactly they got caught, or why they attracted attention in the first place. There must be hackers causing much more damage than that, and probably hijacking loads more money—there must be bigger fish to fry, right? Maybe the Warcraft people got pissed and wanted to publicize a punishment. It sounds as though Chinese law enforcement is overwhelmed, as scams like this aren’t uncommon. An estimated 700,000 people per day in China experience some form of cyber crime, and it reportedly cost the country over $45 billion dollars in 2012.
The U.S. is second to China when it comes to cyber crime, having lost $21 billion last year. I guess that’s not surprising. I wonder what sentence the Target hacker(s) will get if and when they’re caught. Given the scope of the hack and the sheer breach of public security, probably a lot of time. 10 years? The former “world’s most wanted hacker” got five years.
The FDA databases got hacked during the government shutdown. Just today Russian hackers accessed a BBC server. The NSA’s shenanigans continue to get more and more surprising—or less and less surprising, depending on your perspective. Hackers have even stolen Bitcoins and have rigged the market to capitalize on Bitcoin value fluctuations.
Two years and $8,000 isn’t going to make much of a dent, is it?