Even as a child- Phillip Durachinsky made headlines with his computer skills.
Ohio newspapers profiled the high schooler for his back-to-back programming championship wins in 2005 and 200 but the FBI claims Durachinsky was already years into a hacking career that would lead to his indictment on hacking, child porn, wiretapping, and identity theft chargesWednesday.
From 2003 until 2017, feds say, Durachinsky led an escalating series of hacks. His alleged masterpiece was a spyware called “Fruitfly,” which could record people without their knowledge and collect personal records. The virus also allegedly collected banking records, personal communications, and pornography searches, giving Durachinsky millions of pieces of compromising material on victims. It was a culmination of hacks the Ohio man had carried out since 2003, when he was just 13, feds say.
As a high school senior in 2007, Durachinsky told his local newspaper that he hoped to write a program that would make his computer play music (PDF). Durachinsky was in the spotlight as he prepared to enter a high school computer programming competition, which he and a teammate had won the previous two years. A teacher told the paper that Durachinsky had taken every computer class the school had to offer.
“It’s about teamwork, knowing your strengths and weaknesses to help the team,” Durachinsky said. “I’ve been surprised at how well we’ve done.”
A former classmate from Durachinsky’s high school programming club remembered him as “very knowledgeable and clever with computers.” “He talked about a lot of fairly advanced computer things,” the former classmate told The Daily Beast. “All stuff that I ended up learning about in my Computer Science undergrad classes later though.”
But away from the headlines, Durachinsky was working on another project, according to an federal indictment that claims he began hacking computers in 2003.