Threat Management

Barrett Brown sentenced to 63 months in prison

At a Dallas courtroom on Thursday, writer and activist Barrett Brown was sentenced to 63 months in prison – minus about two years of time already served – and was ordered to pay a little more than $890,000 in restitution and fines, according to reports.

In April 2014 at a Dallas federal court, Brown pleaded guilty to posting an online threat aimed at a federal agent. Brown was arrested in 2012 after he posted a video on YouTube in which he threatened an FBI agent tasked with investigating him.

Also in April, Brown pleaded guilty to serving as an accessory after the fact to an unauthorized access to a protected computer, and obstructing justice in the execution of a search warrant, according to a superseding indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Brown had originally faced multiple charges, but in early March 2014, federal prosecutors moved to dismiss 11 of 12 counts related to sharing a link to a dump of credit card numbers connected to the breach of intelligence firm Stratfor.

Brown showed up in a federal courtroom in Dallas in December 2014 for sentencing, only to learn after several hours of oral arguments that it would be postponed until Thursday.

The sentencing comes on the heels of President Barack Obama's proposal to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which will ultimately toughen up penalties for offenses related to hacking.

In a Friday post, Robert Graham, CEO of Errata Security, referred to “President Obama's War on Hackers” as a bad thing, and, referring to Brown, he pointed out that the changes would “make such prosecutions much easier.”

“The most important innovators this law would affect are the cybersecurity professionals that protect the Internet,” Graham wrote, going on to add, “The more you crack down on hackers, the more of a chilling effect you create in our profession.”

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