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'Stung' Russian Hacker Guilty
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 02:41:28 -0500 (CDT)


By Michelle Delio 
7:31 a.m. Oct. 17, 2001 PDT  
Russian computer cracker Vasily Gorshkov was found guilty Tuesday of
20 charges of conspiracy, computer crimes and fraud, according to
court papers filed by the Washington state district prosecutor.

Gorshkov was arrested in April in an FBI sting operation that provoked
some protests. Agents used a digital wiretap to gather details about
Gorshkov's computer, and then hacked into the machine to gather some
of the evidence that was used to prosecute him.

Kenneth E. Kanev, Gorshkov's lawyer, protested the agents' actions,
but last May, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour of Seattle
rejected the motions for dismissal. He said that Gorshkov and his
alleged partner, Alexey Ivanov, knew enough about computers to
understand that networked systems often record user information, and
therefore they should have had "no expectation of privacy."

"This case set a number of important precedents in the area of
cyberlaw," said California criminal attorney Thomas Manning.
"Expectation of privacy is a crucial standard to meet when people's
activities are being monitored. It ties into Fourth Amendment rights
protecting against unreasonable search and seizure. But if there is no
expectation of privacy on a public network, that really changes how
agents can gather information."

Manning also said that precedents set in this case open the door to
agents to "hack back" to gather evidence against criminal hackers.

According to an official from the Washington state district
prosecutor's office, the maximum sentence Gorshkov could receive for
each count is five years.

New York criminal lawyer Ed Hayes doubts that Gorshkov will spend a
century in jail. "If I was him, though, I'd be preparing to spend at
least five or six years behind bars, perhaps less with time off if he

Gorshkov will be sentenced on Jan. 4, 2002.

Gorshkov, 26, along with Ivanov, 20 -- currently in custody in New
Jersey awaiting trial -- allegedly cracked hundreds of computer
systems, stole sensitive client and financial information, and then
attempted to blackmail the companies whose systems had been
penetrated, requesting payment for the safe return of the data.

Several of the companies approached by the pair contacted the FBI, who
responded by creating a computer security firm, named "Invita,"
complete with office, employees and a decoy computer network. They
contacted Ivanov and offered him a job if he could crack the Invita

Ivanov hacked into Invita, and was told he would be hired. He showed
up in Seattle in November 2000 for the interview with Gorshkov, and
both demonstrated their cracking abilities for the undercover agents.

But the agents had installed a sort of electronic wiretap on the
computers that the two used during their demonstration. The program
recorded the passwords Gorshkov used on computer systems in Russia and
his Internet accounts. The agents were able to use this information to
hack into the machines Gorshkov used and gather 260 gigabytes of
evidence pointing to the pair's criminal activities.

During the trial, Kanev challenged the FBI's right to use evidence
gathered in what he claimed was illegal entry into a computer system,
and unauthorized wiretapping.

Kanev contended that the tactics used by the agents to gather evidence
were illegal in Russia, but the judge ruled against Gorshkov since
companies outside of Russia were affected by his activities.

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