Albert Gonzalez, the computer hacker who helped organize massive credit card thefts from national retailers, was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison, one of the longest sentences ever imposed for computer crime or identity theft, reports the Boston Globe. The 28-year-old Miami native, who operated under pseudonyms like “soupnazi'' and “segvec,'' acknowledged stealing millions of debit and credit card numbers after penetrating the computer security defenses of a number of major companies.
After pleading guilty to a litany of charges, Gonzalez faced between 15 and 25 years in prison under an agreement with prosecutors. U.S. District Judge Patti Saris settled on a sentence in the middle of the range, saying she had to weigh Gonzalez's remorse against the amount of damage he caused. She said the effects of his crimes were compounded by the fact that he committed them while working as a Secret Service informant after an earlier arrest in 2003, and she compared him to a “double agent.'' Randy Sabett, a data security lawyer in Washington, D.C., said the harsh punishment reflects both the magnitude of the charges and the government's increasing efforts to crack down on hacking.