Zynga Hacker Jailed For Two Years18 Mar 2011
Ashley Mitchell, a British man who hacked into Zynga’s mainframe servers, stole virtual chips and sold them on through Facebook, has been jailed for two years.
According to a Guardian report, there’s some debate about the precise value of the stolen chips (useable in games like Mafia Wars and Farmville.) Zynga’s prosecuting lawyer claimed that the potential value was $12mil USD, while Mitchell’s defence lawyer maintained that the value was impossible to quantify, as Zynga had an infinite supply of the virtual currency.
In reality, Mitchell was able to raise around £53,000 GBP from the sale of one third of his stolen chips. I’m no lawyer, but to me that suggests a total value of around £170,000 GBP.
Mitchell piggy-backed on neighbours’ WiFi connections and used the identities of two Zynga employees to transfer the chips from Zynga servers to himself. He was only identified because he used his own Facebook profile during one of the hacking attempts.
Judge Philip Wassall was in little doubt that Mitchell had deprived the company of income, stating: “The dishonesty in this case was substantial and protracted. Online security is a priority for everyone these days … The sentence has to reflect the impact on public confidence in security systems and online business when someone breaches security in this way.”