A 15-year-old hacker convicted of multiple felonies was handed an unusual sentence by a Long Beach, California juvenile court on Wednesday, one that will see him all but banned from the internet until his twenty-first birthday.
The hacker's real name was not disclosed because he is a minor, but according to a report by Wired, he goes by the handles "Cosmo" or "Cosmo the God."
As a member of the notorious UG Nazi hacker collective, Cosmo participated in an online reign of terror involving many of the year's most significant hacking events, including a DDoS attack that brought down Twitter for several hours.
Cosmo was finally nabbed in June, following a coordinated law enforcement action that also led to 23 other arrests, spread across eight US states and 13 countries. He was eventually arraigned on a laundry list of charges, ranging from credit card fraud, to identity theft and online impersonation, to making bomb threats.
Had he stood trial and been convicted, he faced a sentence of three years in prison. Instead, he pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him, in exchange for a six-year probation that will allow him to avoid incarceration – for a price.
Under the terms of his plea bargain agreement, Cosmo cannot use the internet without the prior consent of his parole officer, for the duration of his probation. Even then, he cannot go online "in an unsupervised manner," and he cannot use the internet for anything but education-related purposes.
Furthermore, he must turn over the usernames and passwords for all of his online accounts, and if he has access to any devices that are capable of connecting to a network, he must identify them to the court in writing. The devices the court already knows about – the ones that were seized in the FBI raid on his home – won't be returned.
Finally, Cosmo is to have no contact with any members of UG Nazi or Anonymous, nor their associates, nor a list of "other individuals," as specified by the court.
Violate any of those terms, and he goes straight to the slammer for the full three-year bid.
Here at The Reg's San Francisco outpost, we certainly have no love for the kind of malicious hacking that was UG Nazi's trademark, but we can't help but wonder if Cosmo made the right choice. The age of majority in California is 18, and had Cosmo taken the prison time, he might have been released before then. As it stands, he won't be able to fill out an online job application until he is 21, in 2018.
Then again, as long as he's free who needs the internet? He'll have plenty of other things to occupy his time. For example, what about getting his driver's license? He'll be old enough to do that next year. ®