Hacker wants to be next Bill Gates

A Whitianga teenager who hacked into a United States university computer says he would ultimately like to start his own company and become the next Bill Gates.

Owen Walker.
Owen Walker.
Owen Thor Walker told TV3's 60 Minutes programme he would never again hack illegally.

Walker, 19, who this year was discharged without conviction after admitting six cyber crime charges, said since the news broke of his computer skills he had turned down job offers from companies around the world.

He was staying on the Coromandel writing software for a tiny company and ultimately would like to start his own company and be the next Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft).

His mother Shelley Moxham-Whyte, said he had learned to read at aged three, and after he was teased at school she taught him at home.

At 15 he built his own computer and got online. He bought a book on computer programming and taught himself how to do it overnight.

On his hacking exploits, Walker told the programme he had found it interesting.

"I didn't have a lot else to do at the time," he said.

"I knew it was illegal, I just didn't think it was that bad, like it was just a bit of fun, as you do when you're a teenager."

He didn't think he would get caught.

Walker said he was quite surprised at the amount of international media interest he had attracted. Asked if he had enjoyed all the attention, he said "maybe a little".

During eight months hacking, Walker said he made about $40,000.

"I spent it on toys like a new computer, an X-Box, games, buying pizzas for friends and stuff."

He said he would he would like to do something good with the second chance Justice Judith Potter gave him in the High Court at Hamilton in July.

The quiet,"but computer-brilliant" loner put New Zealand on the international cyber crime map.

His appearance in the High Court was the culmination of a lengthy FBI cyber crime investigation spanning the United States, Europe and New Zealand and dubbed "Bot Roast".

It resulted in Walker's arrest a year ago, nearly two years after he started experimenting with bot programs, and was the first prosecution of its kind in this country.

The fresh-faced, long-haired teen was accused of masterminding a scam which infected more than a million computers and contributed to many millions of dollars in damage.

Using the cyber ID "Akill", Walker was the ring-leader of a small but elite botnet coding group known as the A-Team. He admitted knowing what he was doing was illegal but had not considered it criminal.

Walker told investigators he was fascinated by botnets - a network of hacked computers able to be controlled via the internet by a single computer - and the ability to control an army of robotically linked computers.

What he developed was a "significant enhancement" on previous bot code, considered by international cyber crime investigators to be among the most advanced bot programming they had encountered.

Walker's system contained a number of special features that protected it from discovery, allowed it to spread automatically and to identify and destroy rival bot codes.

He designed a unique virus that used encryption and was not able to be detected by anti-virus software.

Walker controlled his botnet using servers outside New Zealand, mainly based in Malaysia.

When the opportunity to make money out of his pastime passion arose, it was too good to resist.

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