In 2008, the Mariposa botnet infected nearly 13 million computers, causing roughly $4 million in damages. An international investigation team isolated the perpetrator, who was swiftly packed off to jail for five years and ordered to pay a fine. So, why has this story been resurrected?
Last week, the US Department of Justice requested for Matzaz “Iserdo” Skorjanc’s extradition after unsealing an updated indictment alleging that he conspired to market Mariposa, likely on the Darkode crime forum. Marketing the malware could potentially result in significant disruption to individuals, businesses and governments.
If convicted in the US, Skorjanc could potentially face a 50-year sentence. Three others, one of whom is a US citizen, have also received related indictment charges.
After his initial release from prison, Skorjanc functioned as the CTO at a Slovenian company known as NiceHash. The company enables consumers to sell their computing power to assist others in mining virtual currencies, like bitcoin. Recently, $52 million in Bitcoin suddenly vanished from the company. The perpetrator has not officially been named. While Skorjanc’s profile raised suspicions, media outlets seem to suspect North Korean hacking groups.
At the moment, Skorjanc remains under arrest in Germany. For his part, Skorjanc’s father, Martin Skorjanc, asserts that no international precedent exists regarding serving two prison sentences for the same crime.
In examining this case, it’s worth considering the purpose of locking Skorjanc up again, and the expected outcome. Hackers like Skorjanc are undoubtedly a menace to society, but they are also extremely bright, and uniquely talented. The human brain is plastic, and, with cultivation, can change. Could law enforcement develop correctional programs that redirect hacker’s efforts towards socially beneficial initiatives?
For more on this story, visit Krebs on Security.