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Teen hacker-for-hire jailed for SIM-swapping attacks, data theft


A British teenager has been sentenced to 20 months in prison after offering hacker-for-hire services to cash in on trends including SIM-swapping attacks.

The UK's Norfolk police force said that 19-year-old Elliot Gunton, of Norwich, was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to hacking offenses. money laundering, the hacking of an Australian Instagram account, and the breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

In April 2018, a routine visit was conducted to Gunton's home with respect to the Sexual Harm Prevention Order that was imposed in 2016 for past offenses.

During the inspection, law enforcement found software which indicated the teenager may be involved in cybercrime, and the further investigation of a laptop belonging to Gunton and seized by police revealed that he had been offering himself as a provider of hacking services.

Specifically, Gunton offered to supply stolen personal information to those that hired him. This information, which could include personally identifiable information (PII) such as names, addresses, and online account details, could then be used to commit fraud and SIM-swapping attacks.

The theft and sale of PII is a commonplace occurrence today. However, SIM-swapping attacks are a relatively new phenomenon.

In order to conduct a SIM-swap, a fraudster will obtain some PII from a target and then call up their telephone subscription provider while pretending to be the true owner of the account. Social engineering then comes into the mix to convince the operator to switch the telephone number belonging to the victim to the attacker's control.

It might only be a short window in which the victim does not realize their number has been transferred, but this time frame can be enough for an attacker to bypass two-factor authentication (2FA), intercept calls and text messages, request password resets, and compromise online accounts ranging from email addresses to cryptocurrency wallets.

This meme explains why TikTok isn't like any other social media



People think that TikTok is a black hole where teens jump in and memes pop out. To be sure, TikTok has both teens and memes. But the reality is much more structured than it seems.

TikTok is dominated by videos with a very rigid, formulaic structure: a song, a dance. “You Need to Calm Down” by Taylor Swift plays, and the person sets up a social scenario that ends with them lip-synching “You need to calm down, you’re being too loud.”

Most of TikTok is like Mad Libs: the specifics of the joke differ, but the punchline is always the same. At any given moment, there’s maybe five to ten sound bites—which could be songs, or original audio recorded by users—that are accumulating the majority of the views, sometimes hundreds of thousands in just hours.

Enter TikTok's latest genre: point-of-view videos, or POVs. They create scenarios that range from horror, to historical fiction, to teenage fantasies, to the completely absurd. These videos often have little in common aside from the significant role that they assign to the viewer.

The traditional TikTok POV is shot from a first-person perspective, making the viewers the main character of the video. TikToker @porrinate, who identified himself as Adam, told Motherboard, “I think it makes it very personal to the viewer, because the video is through their eyes.”

Adam made a POV captioned “#pov you dont have a lunch at school and i offer you my entire lunch because i want you to be okay.” In this video, the viewer is a student that doesn’t have lunch. Adam speaks directly to them.

“I took it from my own experience, which was like, I didn’t get to eat that much in high school—and if I did, it was from somebody else,” Adam said. “So I would always feel like, people need to be more generous, especially towards those who are really struggling.”