Cybersecurity professional sentenced to prison for $12 million cryptocurrency theft | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

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Security of two cryptocurrency exchanges was breached

What’s the story

Shakeeb Ahmed, a seasoned cybersecurity expert, has been sentenced to three years in prison for stealing an estimated $12 million in digital currency.

The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the sentencing on Friday via a press release.

As per prosecutors, Ahmed reportedly breached the security of two cryptocurrency exchanges and was taken into custody last year.

Ahmed’s professional background and victims

Upon his arrest, the authorities described Ahmed as “a senior security engineer for an international technology company.”

His LinkedIn profile indicates a previous stint at Amazon, although a representative from Amazon confirmed to TechCrunch that he was not employed there at the time of his arrest.

The victims of Ahmed’s hacking exploits were Crema Finance and Nirvana Finance, two cryptocurrency exchanges from which he stole $9 million and $3.6 million respectively.

Aftermath of cryptocurrency heist

Ahmed confessed to both cyberattacks. He hacked into Solana-based crypto exchange firm, Crema Finance, in early July 2022.

Weeks later, he hacked into Nirvana Finance, which resulted in the loss of nearly all its assets, forcing the firm to shut down.

Post his infiltration of Crema Finance, he attempted to return the stolen funds minus a $1.5 million fee on condition that Crema would not report the incident.

However, Crema rejected the proposal and Ahmed was subsequently arrested.

Ahmed’s case sheds light on “white hatting”

Ahmed’s case highlights a practice known as “white hatting” in the cryptocurrency industry.

This involves unauthorized hacking and theft of funds from a victim without their consent, which is often considered an operational cost in this sector.

However, law enforcement does not share this perspective.

The practice has come under scrutiny following Ahmed’s sentencing for his illicit activities.

Additional penalties and restitution ordered for Ahmed

In addition to his prison term, Ahmed has also received three years of supervised release. He has been ordered to forfeit $12.4 million along with a substantial amount of cryptocurrency.

Furthermore, he is obligated to pay restitution exceeding $5 million to Crypto Exchange and Nirvana Finance.

These penalties were imposed following his confession and subsequent sentencing for the cryptocurrency thefts.


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