P2P identity thief sentenced

March 19, 2008 | 07:44

Tags: #p2p #seattle #theft

A Seattle man who used the at-the-time popular file sharing application LimeWire to scour unsuspecting users harddrives for personal data has been sentenced to four years imprisonment according to an Associated Press article.

Gregory Kopiloff, 35, was indicted in September of last year after being caught opening credit card and bank accounts using personal data downloaded from at least eight-three different P2P users. After entering a guilty plea in November, he has finally been sentenced to 51 months imprisonment and a three-year supervision order for mail fraud, accessing a protected computer without authorisation to further fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

Kopiloff's crimes were made possible by users misconfiguring the LimeWire software to share more than a single directory. Unlike BitTorrent which only shares files that have a corresponding .torrent, LimeWire will happily allow any J. Random to download whatever the software finds in its shared directory. If you configure the software to share, for example, C:\Documents and Settings then just about every file you've ever created will be a simple search away.

Taking advantage of the misconfigured computers, Kopiloff was able to download saved data including tax returns, official forms in varying states of completion, and bank account records. Once this information was in his grasp, it could be turned into valid bank accounts and credit cards the same as if he'd rummaged through bins for old bank statements.

At the time of his indictment, Assistant Attorney Kathryn Warma – prosecuting, unsurprisingly – described Kopiloff as “a poster child of a 21st-century thief.” During the summation at Kopiloff's sentencing, Judge James L. Robart described the man as “a highwayman in the virtual world.

Although modern file sharing systems based around the BitTorrent protocol offer in-built protection against this kind of issue, it's always worth remembering that it's not just the RIAA who'd like a look at what you've got stored on your PC.

Pleased to see a criminal get his just desserts, or do you believe that the users of the file sharing program should shoulder some of the blame for not securing their systems properly? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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