WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A New Zealand teenager who helped a crime gang hack into more than 1 million computers worldwide and skim millions of dollars from bank accounts has a new job as a security consultant for a telecom company.
Owen Thor Walker has the skills that can help senior executives and customers understand the security threats to their computer networks, TelstraClear spokesman Chris Mirams told National Radio on Wednesday.
Walker pleaded guilty last July — when he was 18 — to a raft of charges connected to his work for an international network that the FBI estimated infiltrated 1.3 million computers and skimmed bank accounts or damaged computer systems to the tune of more than $20 million.
The charges against Walker — who used the online name "AKILL" and wrote so-called botnet infiltration programs for the crime network — were dismissed and he was released without a criminal record after paying a fine and forfeiting cash paid by the criminal group for his expertise.
Walker already has delivered a series of seminars for TelstraClear, advised senior security and management staff at the company and has taken part in an advertising campaign, Mirams said.
"It was really just ... to let them know the type of cyber threats that are out there," Mirams said, adding that Walker also discussed how to defend against those threats.
Some hackers send mass e-mails to a target corporate or government computer system to overload it and crash the system. Others assume control of thousands of computers and amass them in centrally controlled clusters known as botnets.
The hackers can then use the computers to steal credit card information, manipulate stock trades and crash industry computer systems.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.