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CELEBGATE HACKER STRIKES PLEA DEAL

By Richard Adhikari - TecnNewsWorld |17th March 2016

Prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California on Tuesday announced they had reached a plea agreement with Ryan Collins, a Pennsylvania resident, over charges that he hacked Apple and Google email accounts of more than 100 people back in 2014.

The allegations stemmed from the official investigation into the hacking case dubbed "Celebgate," because most of the victims were celebrities whose nude photos were leaked to the Internet. However, the investigators were unable to secure evidence linking Collins to the actual leaks, and found no proof that he uploaded the information to the Web or otherwise shared it.

Collins agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The prosecutors agreed to recommend an 18-month prison term, but the sentencing judge has leeway to impose a statutory maximum of five years. Collins was charged in Los Angeles, but the parties agreed to transfer the case to Harrisburg, hear Collins' home, for the entry of his plea and sentencing.

A Case of Celebrity Fever?

"Is it me, or is the legal system worried about the wrong thing? Why protect the economy when some compromising pictures of celebs have been stolen?"

- Mark Sangster, VP of marketing at eSentire

There should be convictions on "major cases attacking companies and stealing valuable data," Sangster told TechNewsWorld. "Has anyone been convicted on Sony or Target? Or biopharma, tech, or business email compromise fraud? These attacks cost us trillions."

Target will pay out US$10 million to compensate the 40 million people whose credit and debit card records were exposed when it was hacked in 2013.