The hacking of Capital One, where possibly 100 million U.S. and Canadian customers possibly had their data stolen, has become a very revealing affair. Paige A. Thompson, the engineer arrested in connection to the hack, has now been indicted charges for not only that hack, but also cryptojacking.
Court documents indicate that the charges against Thompson include wire fraud, computer fraud and abuse. In her hacking activities, she allegedly infiltrated cloud services and probed for potential customers with weak security. If she found weak systems, she would set up remote control and use those as servers for crypto mining.
It was also revealed that Capital One wasn’t the only company affected by her activity. Besides the bank, she also gained access to a U.S. state agency, a foreign telecom operation, a university, and dozens of others.
If authorities know how much her crypto jacking brought in, they haven’t revealed it. But the investigation so far has revealed that she was not too quiet about what she was doing. “I’ll be employed again soon and if I had a partner I could have them take over my crypto-jacking enterprise and be a stay at home,” she said under one of her Slack pseudonyms, of which she used “erratic” and “0xA3A97B6C.”
Those jokes were likely really funny when she made them, and didn’t think she’d get caught. It’s much more unlikely she’s laughing now. If she’s found guilty, she faces up to 25 years in prison.
The crimes Thompson is accused of likely weren’t hard for her to commit. She worked for Amazon and was well aware of how the Amazon Web Services (AWS) code worked. Regardless, as we’ve reminded the crypto world repeatedly, code is not law.
Thompsons arrest and possibly incarceration is a healthy reminder to the entire cryptocurrency world. Just because the code allows you to do something doesn’t mean the government will. Cryptojacking might have seem like a harmless crime, but it has costs to the victims, and that’s why it’s prosecuted.
Similarly, other seemingly harmless crypto activities might seem harmless, and out of the reach of government, but that’s simply not the case. We live in a society, and we have obligations to each other.
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