There are some hackers who steal valuable information and hold companies hostage. And then there are those who don't.
In an alleged hack that falls into the second category, reports surfaced on Monday that a 22-year-old man from London named Kerem Albayrak has been sentenced for allegedly trying to blackmail Apple out of $100,000 in iTunes gift cards or an equivalent amount of cryptocurrency.
According to Business Insider, Albayrak emailed Apple's security team in 2017, claiming that he had stolen 319 million iCloud accounts and could access their information. He even said that he would sell the contents of those iCloud accounts to his "internet buddies."
Initially, Albayrak wanted $75,000 in iTunes gift cards or cryptocurrency from Apple to go away. But a couple of days later, after sharing a YouTube video of himself apparently accessing iCloud accounts, he upped his demand to $100,000.
Unfortunately for Albayrak, Apple decided not to negotiate. The company instead discovered that there had been no breach of iCloud accounts and reported the attempted blackmail to law enforcement. In March 2017, Albayrak was arrested.
According to court documents obtained by Business Insider, Albayrak was acting on behalf of a hacking group known as the Turkish Crime Family. He had hoped that the attack would elevate the hacking group and his own name.
"When you have power on the internet, it's like fame and everyone respects you, and everyone is chasing that right now," Albayrak told investigators, according to the court documents. Those investigators called Albayrak a "fame-hungry cybercriminal."
Unfortunately for the would-be hacker, he didn't quite attain the level of fame he apparently wanted. And he was ultimately forced to plead guilty to one count of blackmail and two counts of hindering access to a computer. He was officially sentenced on Monday to a suspended sentence of two years in prison. He also faces 300 hours of community service and will need to use an electronic curfew that limits how much time he can spend on electronic devices.
For its part, Apple hasn't commented on the matter and those allegedly stolen iCloud accounts are believed to be safe. But it's perhaps a lesson for companies of all types: Hackers are constantly thinking of ways to target corporate information for financial gain and notoriety. How companies handle the problem, respond to threats, and, most important, safeguard information ultimately determines how bad it can be.