How To Get Arrested For Using Distributed.net

from the ridiculous dept

An article over at Salon about the David McOwen situation - in which he might go to jail for installing the distributed.net screensaver on computers at DeKalb college where he worked. If you don't know, distributed.net was the first major "distributed" computing program which is being used to try to solve encryption problems by using spare processing power when you're not using your computer. It's a pretty simple program (I used to have it running on a few of my computers). Since distributed.net became popular, tons of other distributed computing applications like SETI@home and others for solving medical problems have gotten lots of press. McOwen, though, was fired from his job because folks at DeKalb thought he had installed a "hacking tool". He resigned, and now he might face criminal charges, time in jail and a half a million dollar fine. Yes, it's absolutely ridiculous. I'm beginning to agree with people who think we need special courts to deal with legal cases involving technology.


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  1.  
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    Other Ryan, Jul 17th, 2001 @ 10:36am

    Send him up

    We had a contractor here who took it upon himself to install the SETI client on all our servers. It took me a week to figure out that that was what was causing the cd burning software to crash.

     

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  2.  
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    Brian, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 9:25am

    same thing happened to me

    I was a student at the University of Texas at San Antonio and ran distributed.net's client on around 300 P-150 clients in all the computer labs. I had to go from computer to computer to load the stealth program. after about a month of some hard core computing I got greedy and started loading the mac client on some PPC200Mhz which cracked about 5x faster than the PCs thats when I got caught by one of my professors that wanted to expell me from school. However I calmed him down and confessed what I did, they went aware to the extent of how many computers I had comendered. My team went from the bottom to top 10 in a month or 2 in 1997. Those were the good ole days. I went to the IT admin of the computer labs to confess to him and he said he thought it was cool what i did but that it wouldnt matter cause every semester they wipe all the harddrives and reinstall all software durring the break, but that I could get permission from a professor if I could get it approved as an official school project. Anyway after talked to a friendly professor in the CS dept that I had known for years, he convinced me that the project ultimately wasnt very useful, and he asked about other distro projects. I mentioned several that he considered trite (prime #s, fractals, chess), but as I was about to leave I said well in abour 2 yrear there will be a SETI project and he said yes! that would be great and would support that when it came about. I didnt stay around that University much longer due to my Iconoclast ways but I always thought it interesting that the professor who said he would of kiced me about of school too was willing to support SETI@home but not key cracking. Now I help the Hack-a-day team on Folding@home but I learned my lesson the hard way about B0rging :) Still makes a good story those were good times very cloak and dagger back then!

     

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