University Student Guilty Of Cybercrime Sentenced To ProbationBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
A former student of Carnegie Mellon University who was found guilty of cybercrime has been sentenced to three years' probation. Morgan Culbertson, 22, developed and sold malware that allowed other people to remotely control Google Android smartphones.
The Associated Press reported that U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab has also ordered Culbertson to perform 300 hours of community service. Initially, he had faced up to 16 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.
However, he was saved from imprisonment after his defense attorney and prosecutors acknowledged his lack of a criminal record. The court also recognized his efforts to use his extraordinary computer skills for good after he was charged last Jul. 2015.
Since then, Culbertson has helped create language translation software for a search engine firm. He also developed mobile malware security software for another company.
The former Carnegie Mellon University student was described by assistant U.S. attorney Jimmy Kitchen as a "youthful" whiz kid who was "looking for a challenge." Nonetheless, Kitchen did not disregard the harm caused by the Dendroid app that Culbertson developed.
He is one of 12 people charged by the authorities in a global takedown of the Darkode.com cybercriminal marketplace. 70 people were claimed to have used the cybercriminal marketplace where malicious software was sold and bought.
Culbertson has expressed his remorse for what he did. He is currently on leave from Carnegie Mellon University where he completed his sophomore year in electrical computer engineering.
According to Toledo Blade, the 22-year-old pleaded guilty over the summer in the conspiracy to damage protected computers. He was said to have worked with someone from the Netherlands to design a product named "Dendroid."
The malware infected victims' smartphones. It allowed the user to intercept text messages, steal files, take photos and browse histories as well as record phone calls without the phone owner's knowledge.
Culbertson is reportedly taking classes at Community College of Allegheny County. He is also working as an intern in Hyiilon in Plum, a company that designs technology for the trucking industry.