A man who sold a stolen list of 92 million AOL
email addresses to spammers has been sentenced to jail.
Former AOL employee Jason Smathers has been sentenced to 15
months in prison for stealing a database of 92 million email
addresses of the ISP's customers and selling it to spammers.
Smathers - who was fired by AOL in June 2004 - used another
employee's access code to steal the list of AOL customers from its
headquarters in Dulles, Virginia. He then sold the list for $28,000
(£15,515). As a result of the 25-year-old's actions, approximately
seven billion spam messages are said to have flooded the inboxes of
innocent AOL users. The details of the AOL email accounts are still
believed to be circulating in the spammer underground
"We welcome the authorities taking action in this case, and
sending out a clear message to others who may be tempted to assist
spammers. Those who help the spammers in their criminal activities
are doing a disservice to everyone who uses the internet for
legitimate reasons," said Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant for Sophos. "If you are co-operating and
working with spammers then don't be surprised if the computer crime
authorities take a dim view of your activities."
A lawyer for Smathers said that the theft of the list of email
addresses had been a "dumb, stupid, insane act".
Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can defend businesses
from the threats of both spam and viruses.