UK Cops Punish Suspected Hacker By Having Him Work With The Organization He Hacked To Patch Up Security Holes
from the a-better-way-to-handle-minor-breaches dept
We've seen lots of companies (and prosecutors) go after researchers and hobbyists who have exposed security holes in websites and software. Rather than simply fix the problem and alert those who might be affected, too many see fit to shoot the messenger as well.
We've also seen some disturbing over-prosecution of less well-intentioned hackers, presumably meant to act as a deterrent toward others who might feel like taking a poke at a company's firewall. This tends to result in sentences completely divorced from the reality of the situation. So, it's somewhat refreshing to see law enforcement officials handle a hacking case in a much more proactively positive way. (via the Office of Inadequate Security)
Following an investigation, a 24-year-old man from London was arrested for computer misuse by the Metropolitan Police. The man admitted accessing email accounts by using information found on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to identify targets, and bypass their security questions.
It's unclear if the man did anything with the information he'd obtained. The man admitted to accessing the accounts and claimed he didn't know his actions were illegal. After some discussion with the suspect and the organization affected (which has asked not to be named), both aggrieved parties agreed to let the enterprising hacker work it off.
Instead of pursuing a prosecution, the victims agreed to a 'restorative justice' option, whereby the hacker will now be giving advice to the organisation about cyber security and some of the methods used to breach networks.
The 24-year-old will now be strengthening the security of the organization whose system he'd breached. This is a much better outcome for everyone involved than the alternative. A prosecution would likely have kept the suspect on the wrong side of the law. Spending time in jail tends to decrease the chances of rehabilitation and a criminal record can often serve as an inadvertent deterrent to making an honest living. A chance to work with those he's negatively affected will disabuse the man of any "victimless crime" notions and give the organization a chance to learn cybersecurity skills from someone who knows a thing or two about working around the minimal security roadblocks erected with a "will this do" shrug by far too many entities.