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Data-breaches hacker sentenced to 20 years
BOSTON (3/29/10)--The hacker convicted of masterminding the world's biggest data breaches and stealing hundreds of millions of credit and debit card numbers was sentenced to 20 years and a day in prison Friday, to be served concurrently with another 20-year sentenced he received Thursday on related breaches. U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock Friday also ordered that Albert Gonzalez, 28, of Miami, Fla., pay a $28,000 fine for his role in stealing roughly 130 million card numbers from Heartland Payment Systems Inc., as well as the 7-Eleven stores and Hannaford Brothers, a New England grocery chain (Boston Globe via Boston.com March 26). Thursday's sentence by Judge Patti Saris of U.S. federal court in Boston was for the theft of card numbers from retailer TJX Cos., Barnes & Noble, OfficeMax, BJs Wholesale Club and others (InformationWeek March 26). Prosecutors said the breaches result in more than $200 million in losses and damages in those cases. U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann told the court that Gonzalez "shook up a portion of our financial system." In court documents, Gonzalez acknowledged he had a central role in the TJX case but said he had only a "peripheral" role in the Heartland case, which cost Heartland $129 million in losses related to upgrading its computer security systems, communicating with the public and fending off lawsuits. The breaches caused headaches for credit unions and other financial institutions across the nation who were forced to reissue cards to replace the ones compromised in the breaches as well as for members and other consumers whose accounts were invaded by cybercriminals as a result of the breaches.
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