How hackers get caught

Apparently the mistake that's hardest to avoid is not bragging that you did it

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The latest version of InfoWorld's Stupid Hacker Tricks goes a long way toward explaining why some hackers are caught almost immediately, while others stay out on the dark fringes for years.

It seemed as if the FBI grabbed 35-year-old Christopher Chaney of Jacksonville, Fla. for hacking the phones and emails of Scarlett Johansson and other female A-listers within days of the Johansson revelations.

[ Stupid hacker tricks: Exploits gone bad ]

Actually the investigation went on for more than a year and Johansson's photos went missing months before the publicity rush resulting from her request that the FBI quit dawdling and do something about the guy who allegedly stole private data and compromising photos from more than 50 famous women.

Chaney didn't make too many obvious mistakes, unlike fellow hackerazzi Josh Holly, a 21-year-old accused of hacking Miley Cyrus' Gmail account to steal and re-post risqué pictures, but arrested for using stolen naked-celebrity pictures as the bait in a phishing scheme that brought victims back to sites where their credit-card numbers were captured for later misuse.

He is charged with having more than 200 compromised card-account numbers in his possession and defrauding victims of more than $100,000.

Sounds like a serious work effort, not a student on a lark who would make stupid mistakes. Except that Holly allegedly couldn't resist bragging about cracking Miley's account – giving interviews to bloggers and boasting at forums of hacker site Digitalgangster.com, from which he was either traced by IP address, or "ratted out" by other hackers as he told Wired.

The desire for direct fame isn't the only variety of hubris that can bring down hackers.

In June, the Anonymous spinoff group LulsZec took credit for attacking the Atlanta chapter site of InfraGard – an association designed to act as liaison and networking location for the FBI, corporate IT groups and the National Infrastructure Protection Center.

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