Scam of the day – April 10, 2015 – Member of international computer hacking ring pleads guilty to hacking video game manufacturers

Nineteen year old Austin Alcala recently became the fourth member of an international hacking ring to plead guilty to hacking into the computer networks of a number of videogame developers including  Microsoft Corporation, Epic, Games Inc., Valve Corporation and Zombie studios.  In the course of the hacking of these companies, the hackers stole information and intellectual property valued at one-hundred million dollars including software source codes, trade secrets and other information regarding the Microsoft Xbox Live online gaming system and popular games including FIFA, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3.  Sentencing is scheduled for July 29th.


It should come as no surprise that nineteen year olds without the resources of state governments and large companies have sufficient computer power to hack into the biggest companies in the world.  This case is just another example of the fact that all of us and the companies with which we do business have got to do a better job of protecting the security of important information.  As individuals, there is little we can do to compel companies and government agencies to better protect the data they hold, however, for ourselves, there are many things including the use of strong passwords, encryption programs and security software that is constantly updated to enhance our security.  In addition, the avoiding of clicking on links in emails and text messages unless you are absolutely sure that is legitimate is a good way to avoid becoming a victim of phishing.

Scam of the day – October 8, 2014 – Justice Department indicts members of international computer hacking gang

Recently the U.S. Department of Justice indicted four members of an international computer hacking gang on charges of hacking into the computer networks of Microsoft Corporation, Epic Games, Inc., Valve Corporation, Zombie Studios and the U.S. Army and stealing more than a hundred million dollars worth of trade secrets and intellectual property.  The hacking involved software and data related to the Xbox One console, Xbox Live online gaming system, games, such as “Call of Duty:  Modern Warfare 3” as well as software used to train military helicopter pilots for the U.S. Army.  Those indicted included three Americans, Nathan Leroux, Sandadoleh Nesheiwat and eighteen year old Austin Alcala.  Also indicted was David Pokora, a Canadian.  Additionally, an Australian citizen has been charged under Australian law in regard to the same criminal enterprise.  Two of the defendants have already pleaded guilty including David Pokora who thus becomes the first foreigner convicted of stealing trade secrets.


Hacking into companies in order to obtain trade secrets has become commonplace.  According to a government report, more than 3,000 companies have been hacked by Chinese hackers.  FBI Director James Comey said recently on the television show 60 Minutes that there are two types of companies in the United States, those that have been hacked by the Chinese and those that just don’t realize that they have been hacked by the Chinese.  The government and business  have both got to a better job of protecting the security of data.   Legislation, regulation and training has got to be improved to meet a threat from government sponsored hacking as well as hacking by private criminals.