Page last updated at 09:51 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 10:51 UK

NZ teenage hacker charges dropped

Keyboard and US money -  file photo
Police say the botnet skimmed millions from bank accounts

A New Zealand teenager who admitted to taking part in an international cyber-crime network has been discharged without a conviction.

Police said the group hijacked more than one million computers and used them to take at least $20.4m (10.3m) from private bank accounts.

Owen Thor Walker, 18, was ordered to pay $10,000 (5,000) in damages and hand over his computer-related assets.

Police said they were interested in using his skills to fight cyber-crime.

Investigators called Mr Walker's programme one of the "most advanced" they had seen, prosecutors said.

He did not take money from people's accounts, but he was paid nearly $31,000 (15,500) for software he designed that gave the cyber-ring access usernames, passwords and credit card details.

Judge Judith Potter dismissed the charges, relating to a 2006 attack on a computer system at a US university, saying a conviction could jeopardise a potentially bright career.

Bank details

Mr Walker was detained in the North Island city of Hamilton last November as part of an investigation with US and Dutch police into global networks of hijacked PCs, known as botnets.

A botnet can be controlled over the internet by a single computer.

It installs malicious software on PCs to collect information such as login names, bank account details and credit card numbers.

Mr Walker pleaded guilty to charges of accessing a computer for dishonest purposes, interfering with computer systems, possession of software for committing crime and accessing computer systems without authorisation, the New Zealand Press Association said.

New Zealand police said he had begun committing the crimes at school, and had designed an encrypted virus that was undetectable by anti-virus software.

NZ teen convicted of cyber crime
01 Apr 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Arrests made in botnet crackdown
30 Nov 07 |  Technology
FBI tries to fight zombie hordes
14 Jun 07 |  Technology
Google searches web's dark side
11 May 07 |  Technology
Malicious code rise driven by web
25 Apr 07 |  Technology
Google warns on 'unsafe' websites
07 Aug 06 |  Technology

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific