15 Jul 2008

Talented teen hacker may get police job

3:42 pm on 15 July 2008

Police are so impressed by the skills of a teenage computer hacker who masterminded an international cyber crime ring from his Coromandel base that they may offer him a job.

Owen Thor Walker, 18, of Whitianga, was discharged without conviction in the High Court at Hamilton on Tuesday after earlier pleading guilty to six charges, including accessing or interfering with a computer system and using a computer dishonestly.

He was involved in creating a robotic network called Botnet which created codes allowing illegal access to tens of thousands of computers worldwide.

The court heard that cyber crime investigators considered his Botnet programming to be among the most advanced they had ever encountered. The Crown said Mr Walker's interests in computer gaming had spilled over into the real world.

However, police say they are not ruling out the possibility of offering him job.

Detective Inspector Peter Devoy says an offer of employment may be considered because of his remarkable ability with computers. Mr Devoy says he believes the community would see the idea as a positive step.

Maarten Kleintjes, head of the police E-Crime Lab, says he is deeply impressed by Mr Walker's skills, which he describes as unique.

Although discharged without conviction, Mr Walker was ordered to make reparation of almost $10,000 and to pay court costs of $5000.

Both the Crown and defence asked the court to consider a discharge without conviction and Justice Potter agreed, saying he was a young man with a potentially outstanding future.

She said his actions were not motivated by criminal intent or maliciousness.