Hamza Bendelladj

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Hamza Bendelladj
Born1988 (age 30–31)
NationalityAlgerian
Other namesSmiling Hacker
OccupationHacker

Hamza Bendelladj (Arabic: حمزة بن دلاج), is an Algerian hacker who goes by the code name BX1,[1] and has been nicknamed the "Smiling Hacker". Born in 1988[2] in Tizi Ouzou, Algeria[3], he was on the top 10 list of the most wanted hackers by Interpol and the FBI,[4] for allegedly embezzling tens of millions of dollars[5] from more than two hundred American and European financial institutions, via a computer virus, the "RimiG33k" that infected more than 50 million computers worldwide (mostly from the United States),[6] which he developed with his Russian accomplice Aleksandr Andreevich Panin, aka "Gribodemon",[7] to steal banking information stored on infected computers. He hacked the official website of the Israeli government.[8]

Mode of operation[edit]

Using malicious software called "SpyEye", Bendelladj under the pseudonyms "BX1" or "Daniel HB", broke into the computers of the banks or private individuals to acquire passwords and identification codes. Once he took control of an account, he emptied them.

Arrest[edit]

After a three-year hunt, Bendelladj was arrested on January 8, 2013 by Thai police while making a stopover in Bangkok in transit between Malaysia and Egypt. He did not resist arrest. He said goodbye to his family as he was arrested and his wife and daughter continued their journey to Egypt without him. He earned the nickname "Smiling Hacker" due to the smile on his face during his media presentation on all the photos taken after his arrest even when handcuffed.[9] According to Thai police, Bendelladj was in the top 10 most wanted by the FBI.[10]

When asked what he did with the money, he said he spent it donating millions of dollars to Palestinian and African charities.[11] Trial documents did not mention it.[2]

Extradition to the United States[edit]

He was extradited in May 2013 to the United States. He was tried in Atlanta where he pleaded guilty on June 25, 2015. He faced a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of fourteen million dollars.[12]

His accomplice Aleksandr Andreevich Panin was arrested on July 1, 2013, at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and pleaded guilty in January 2014 to the Atlanta Federal Court.

Support on social networks[edit]

In 2015, a Tunisian website posted a rumor that Bendelladj had been sentenced to death. This rumor spread on social networks in Algeria and several Facebook support groups were created in reaction to support him. A petition was launched demanding that the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and President Barack Obama intervene for his release.[13] The US ambassador to Algeria, Joan A. Polaschik wrote on her Twitter account, "that computer crimes are not capital crimes and are not punishable by the death penalty".[14]

Conviction in the United States[edit]

Bendelladj has been in prison in the United States since May 2013, with the US court sentenced him on April 20, 2016 to 15 years in prison and 3 years of probation.[15] His Russian accomplice Panin, 27, aka "Gribodemon", was sentenced to 9 years and 6 months in prison.[16]

In their report, the United States Department of Justice estimated the "SpyEye" virus had stolen approximately a billion dollars. Between 2010 and 2012, the affected banks repaired the damage caused by this malware. Bendelladj's lawyer announced that he intended to appeal against the court's decision.[17]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Algerian National Extradited from Thailand to Face Federal Cyber Crime Charges in Atlanta for SpyEye Virus. Communiqué du 3 mai 2013 sur le site officiel du FBI.
  2. ^ a b "Hamza Bendelladj: Is the Algerian hacker a hero? | News". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
  3. ^ Major Computer Hacking Forum Dismantled. (Voir : Hamza Bendelladj, ara Bx1, 27, of Tizi Ouzou, Algeria), en bas de page du communiqué du 15 juillet 2015, sur le site officiel du FBI.
  4. ^ Le "hacker riant", héros d'Algérie, Europe 1, 9 janvier 2013.
  5. ^ "Un hacker algérien arrêté à Bangkok". 2013-01-07. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  6. ^ États-Unis : le hacker algérien Hamza Bendelladj condamné à 15 ans de prison. Jeune Afrique - 21 avril 2016
  7. ^ Retour sur la traque du créateur du virus « SpyEye », 24 février 2014. France 24.
  8. ^ Hamza Bendelladj ne risque pas la peine de mort, L'Expression [fr], du 24 aout 2015.
  9. ^ Pirate arrêté, virus en liberté, Le Monde, du 25 mai 2013.
  10. ^ Algérie : Hamza Bendelladj, cracker indécryptable, Jeune Afrique, du 30 janvier 2013.
  11. ^ Algerijnse hacker star van amerikanen en schonk aan palestijnen, De Standaard, édition du 22 septembre 2015.
  12. ^ Détenu à Atlanta (États-Unis) : Le hacker Hamza Bendelladj n’a pas été condamné à mort, El Watan, du 24 aout 2015.
  13. ^ Affaire du hacker algérien : Il risque 30 ans de prison,Le Soir d'Algérie, 1er octobre 2015.
  14. ^ Condamnation à mort du jeune hacker algérien, l'ambassadrice des États-Unis coupe court à la rumeur, Algérie-Focus, 23 aout 2015.
  15. ^ Hacker Hamza Bendelladj sentenced to 15 years,Al Jazeera, 23 Apr 2016.
  16. ^ Two Major International Hackers Who Developed the “SpyEye” Malware get over 24 Years Combined in Federal Prison, Justice.gov, Wednesday, April 20, 2016.
  17. ^ US bank hackers get long bail term.BBC - 21 avril 2016