Hamza Bendelladj : The Algerian hacker who is idolised by millions of Algerians

If you have been following the SpyEye trojan indictment report earlier this month you would have probably heard of Hamza Bendelladj. You would be wondering why this hacker who has been sentenced to 15 years by a US court is so popular on social media and well as tech forums.

Hamza Bendelladj is a version of modern day online Robin Hood and is hero worshipped in his home country Algeria. The Algerians and hackers from Middle-Eastern region view him as their idol whom they seek to emulate. Hamza reportedly used his SpyEye trojan to milk money from people from the west to give the same to Palestinian charities closer  home. More so because somebody on social media spread the rumour that Hamza was handed over death sentence by the US court.

Hamza Bendelladj is a legend in Algeria, a country which is also going through turbulent times politically. Hamza who operated with the code name is ” BX1 ” 1  and was dubbed the ” smiling Hacker “, born in 1988 , from Tizi-Ouzou in Algeria. According to the people who knew him, Hamza could speak 5 foreign languages and was proficient in coding, a career option available to only the elite Algerian class.

Who is Hamza Bendelladj aka The Smiling Hacker?

 

The above image was taken when Hamza was taken in custody in Bangkok. The image is the reason Hamza is called The Smiling Hacker.



Hamza may be a much loved figure from Algerians and Middle-Eastern hackers but for the West he was nothing less than a criminal who was on list of FBI’s most wanted cyber criminals. He and his friend, Aleksandr Andreevich Panin aka ‘Gribodemon’ and ‘Harderman’ were responsible for losses of over $20 million to Western banks through their SpyEye trojan.

In 2013, Hamza was arrested in Thailand and was later deported to the United States after which he was charged with twenty-three different crimes  from 2009 to 2011, including several bank wire frauds, computer frauds and abuse schemes.

According to the indictment document released by the United States Department of Justice dated June 26th, 2013, SpyEye, a malware and phishing toolkit was specifically designed for the theft of confidential private data as well as financial credentials of the targeted victim.

Panin and Hamza operated their cyber crimeware empire from Russia since 2009. He and Hamza used to sell  “SpyEye” online for $1000 to $10,000. According to authorities, Hamza and Panin sold this blockbuster malware to more than 150 Cyber criminals. One of the their client is believed to have stolen $3.2 million during 6 month period using “SpyEye“ malware.

Hamza pleaded guilty June 2015 to all the charges. Humza accepted that he transmitted more than one million spam emails containing strains of SpyEye and related software to computers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of thousands of computers getting infected.

Hamza Bendelladj who is just 27 years old will get to spend 15 years in a US Penitentiary for the financial crimes he and Panin committed. Despite his admission of guilt, Hamza’s supporters continue to hack various websites across the world, including, of late, Air France and a Virginia-based university, calling for his release using the hashtags #FreeHamzaBendellaj and #FreePalestine.