A Carnegie Mellon student received a three-year probation and was ordered to perform 300 hours of community service following his participation in the Darkode cybercriminal marketplace.
Morgan Culbertson, 22, developed and sold the Dendroid app on the online forum, a malicious software that enabled attackers to remotely control Google Android smartphones, according to ABC News.
Culbertson could have received up to 16 months in prison after he pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to damage protected computers. While acknowledging the "highly invasive, highly dangerous" software that Culbertson developed and sold, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Kitchen described Culbertson as a "youthful" whiz kid "looking for a challenge."
The court decision was based on it being the young man's first offense, he admitted his guilt, cooperated with authorities and was attempting to make amends, reports stated.
Culbertson, on leave from CMU and taking classes at a community college, is one of a dozen people indicted by U.S. authorities in a global shuttering of the Darkode.com marketplace, known for selling malicious software. The takedown was spearheaded in July 2015 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation along with cooperation from international law enforcement.
The Dendroid app he developed was capable of allowing attackers to gain control of Android phones to steal files, turn on the device's camera and track internet searches and texting – all without the awareness of the phone's owner.