The alleged criminals were arrested and charged with a number of offenses including conspiracy to commit computer fraud. Photobucket is a photo sharing website which claims to have around 60 million unique monthly users, according to the BBC.
Application allows criminals to access personal details of Photobucket users
The app developed by the pair enabled users to gain access to password-protected accounts, and thus the private photos stored on those accounts. So far it is not clear how many Photobucket users had their accounts compromised due to the two hackers.
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Those interested in hacking Photobucket accounts had their lives made a lot easier when the app was released back in 2012. Its name was an obscene play on words using the name Photobucket.
Should they be found guilty, the pair could be sentenced to 5 years in prison and forced to pay a $250,000 fine for computer fraud. Brandon Bourret and Athanasios Andrianakis could also face another prison sentence up to a maximum of 10 years, and another $250,000 fine, if they are found guilty of access device fraud.
The court will be shown evidence against the pair which includes customer service messages to users of the app, as well as a series of Paypal payments.
Paypal payment trail incriminates duo
“We congratulate the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office for their vigilant investigative work in identifying and bringing these perpetrators to justice, said Michael Clark, chief technology officer at Photobucket. “We will continue to support the government’s work and our users through this ongoing criminal investigation,” he continued.
According to cybersecurity expert Professor Alan Woodward, their use of Paypal made the duo traceable and ultimately led to their downfall. “In such a case the law enforcement agencies just ‘follow the money’,” he said. “If they had been using crypto-currencies it would have made life a lot more difficult for the law enforcement agencies,” Professor Woodward continued.
He then went on to underline the value of personal data to criminals. “A so-called Fulz (a full dossier of personal details) can sell for $15 (£10) on the black market. You can see that if this can be done at scale then it could be a lucrative undertaking,” Professor Woodward said.