Kerem Albayrak, a hacker, has been found guilty of blackmailing Apple and threatening the company of releasing information of several million iCloud accounts.
Back in March 2017, a hacker group that called itself ‘Turkish Crime Family’ had claimed that it had access to over 300 million iCloud accounts. The group blackmailed Apple that it would reset all those iCloud accounts and dump the database online if the Cupertino-based tech giant didn’t pay the group $75,000 in cryptocurrencies or $100,000 worth iTunes gift cards.
Apple responded to the threat saying that no iCloud accounts had been compromised and that the company does not pay cybercriminals for breaking the law. The tech giant soon reported the incident to law enforcement agencies in the US and the UK. The case was then taken up and led by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
The investigation soon led to Kerem Albayrak, a 22-year old man who lives in north London. NCA arrested the culprit at his home address and seized the individual’s digital devices, including phone, computers, and a hard drive. The agency found phone records in Kerem’s mobile, which revealed that he was the spokesperson for the so-called Turkish Crime Family hacker group.
Moreover, NCA’s investigation has confirmed Apple’s findings that no data had been compromised, which reassures Apple’s users that the claims made by the Turkish Crime Family were false and that all iCloud accounts are safe. According to the agency, “The data Albayrak claimed to have was actually from previously compromised third-party services that were mostly inactive.”
When NCA asked Kerem about some of his activities, he told investigators, “once you get sucked into it [cybercrime], it just escalates and it makes it interesting when it’s illegal. When you have power on the internet it’s like fame and everyone respects you, and everyone is chasing that right now.” The agency said that it was clear that the culprit was seeking fame and fortune.
Kerem was given a two-year prison sentence. However, he avoided the prison time in exchange for a two-year suspension, a six-month electronic curfew, and 300 hours of unpaid work.