Posted: March 26th, 2021

United States v Paige Thompson Essay

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United States v Paige Thompson
The accused, Ms. Paige Thompson, was a Seattle-based software engineer working for a technology company. In July 2019, she was arrested after a tip-off was sent via email to Capital One Bank alleging that there had been a breach into the s3 data of one hundred million Capital One customers (Pepitone). The tip-off was about a post that the accused had made on GitHub, which gave a specific IP address to one of Capital One’s cloud servers. Independent sources reported that the accused worked for Amazon Web Services (AWS), although the Department of Justice had not revealed that information to the public (Pepitone). Cyber investigators in the Department of Justice believe that the accused managed to access personal customer information through a misconfigured firewall on Capital One’s web services (United States Department of Justice). Cyber investigators identified the accused through her social media profiles. She had left a trail of posts, which led investigators to believe that she was the suspect. The accused social media profiles used alias handles in the name of “erratic,” She continuously alluded as having possession of the Capital One data and willing to disclose the information to unauthorized users (Pepitone).
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) raided her house and retrieved storage hard drives with copies of Capital One customers’ data, which led to her being arrested and charged (United States Department of Justice). On 28 August 2019, the accused was indicted by a federal grand jury on wire and computer fraud charges and abuse for the intrusion of at least 30 companies, including Capital One (United States Department of Justice). During the FBI raid, the accused was found in possession of stolen data from at least thirty companies. The charges carry a maximum of up to 25 years in prison and a fine (United States Department of Justice). The accused was charged in court in the western district of Washington, Seattle on 5 September 2019, and her trial continues with the next trial date being 8 February 2021 (United States Department of Justice). The accused was denied bail and continues to be held in federal remand prison.
The case circumstances are outrightly unusual as the accused does not appear to have intended to commit a cybercrime to use the acquired data for sale. As in most cases, cybercriminals will conduct a full-scale hack of a target’s systems, but in Ms. Thompson’s case, she only took advantage of a firewall configuration error (Brandom). Moreover, her cyber activities’ behavior and openness reveal that she was not interested in covering her trails as she used the same “erratic” profile on social network platforms, including GitHub and Twitter (Brandom). Ms. Thompson’s case is largely detached from the usual hacker behavior.
Indeed, a survey shows that hackers understand the judicial sanctions that come with their illegal activities but perceive a low likelihood of being punished and are more concerned with the value of their illegal exploits than the risks of cybercrime (Young, Zhang, and Prybutok, 282). However, Chan (45) argues that there are different types of hackers that people generally misconstrue. Some hackers are aware of regulatory punishment risks but do little to cover their tracks as they are more guided by their internal validity cues than external threats. This may be said of Ms. Thompson, who, despite being severally warned on social media by colleagues as having possession of risky material, seems not concerned with the risks. However, her social media posts, especially on Twitter, demonstrate that she was suffering from a psychiatric problem and severally alluded to seeking mental help in a mental hospital.

Works Cited
Brandom, Russell. The Capital One breach is more complicated than it looks. 31 July 2019. online. 11 December 2020. .
Chan, Siew H. “An Empirical Investigation Of Hacking Behavior.” Review of Business Information Systems 9.4 (2005): 41-58. web.
Pepitone, Julianne. What we know about Paige Thompson, the alleged Capital One hacker. 30 July 2019. online. 11 December 2020. .
United States Department of Justice. Former Seattle Tech Worker Indicted on Federal Charges for Wire Fraud and Computer Data Theft. 28 August 2019. online. 11 December 2020. .
United States Department of Justice. United States v. Paige Thompson. 15 September 2020. online. 11 December 2020. .
Young, Randall, Lixuan Zhang and Victor R. Prybutok. “Hacking into the Minds of Hackers.” Information Systems Management 24.4 (2007): 281-287. pdf.


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