Two young hackers have been convicted in Germany for stealing and leaking unreleased songs by top recording artists including Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Mariah Carey.
The two hackers, identified only as Christian M., 23, and Deniz A., 18, managed to install trojans on computers belonging to the managers of high-profile celebrities.
This allowed them to steal unpublished material which they sold or made available for download on underground forums.
Deniz A., known as DJ Stolen in the hacking scene, blackmailed pop singer Kesha with explicit photos stolen from her computer. The hacker asked the artist for an audio shout out so he can brag with it to his friends.
According to AFP, the teenager received an 18-month sentence at an institute for juvenile offenders, while his older partner was handed down an 18-month suspended prison sentence.
Prosecutors claimed the two hackers earned over 15,000 euros from their activity, but more importantly, they probably caused millions in damages because the songs were not properly released.
It also seems that the two Germans were part from a larger hacker movement targeting recording artists. While investigating the case, authorities uncovered an entire community of hackers competing over who can steal more unreleased material.
R&B singer Usher is believed to have cancelled the release of an already produced album in 2009, because the songs on it were leaked on the Internet. In addition to the artists themselves, hackers are also targeting people close to them who usually make for easier targets because they spend more time on their computers.
The techniques used are based on social engineering and are similar to those employed by cyber crooks. Trojans are hidden as photos or documents, while phishing emails are crafted to appear as if they originate from big service providers like Yahoo! or Apple.