Student jailed for "extensive" Facebook hack

LONDON Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:08pm GMT

An illustration picture shows the log-on screen for the website Facebook, in Munich February 2, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

An illustration picture shows the log-on screen for the website Facebook, in Munich February 2, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Michael Dalder

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LONDON (Reuters) - A student, who hacked into Facebook's internal network risking "disastrous" consequences for the website, was jailed for eight months on Friday in what prosecutors described as the most serious case of its kind they had seen.

Glenn Mangham, 26, a software development student, admitted infiltrating Facebook from his bedroom at his parents' house in York last year, sparking fears at the U.S. company that it was dealing with major industrial espionage.

"This was the most extensive and flagrant incidence of social media hacking to be brought before British courts," said Alison Saunders, London's Chief Prosecutor. "Fortunately, this did not involve any personal user data being compromised."

Facebook first became aware of a security breach in its internal network in April and called in the FBI. The U.S. agents established the source of the hacking was based in Britain and British police raided Mangham's home in June.

Mangham said he had previously helped search engine Yahoo Inc improve its security and wanted to do the same for Facebook. However, prosecutors rejected his explanation.

"He said he wanted a mini project and chose Facebook because of its high-profile internet presence," prosecutor Sandip Patel told London's Southwark Crown Court.

"The prosecution does not accept that the defendant's actions were anything other than malicious."

The court was told Facebook spent $200,000 (126,271 pounds) in dealing with his actions, the Press Association reported.

Judge Alistair McCreath told Mangham his actions were not harmless and had "real consequences and very serious potential consequences" which could have been "utterly disastrous" for Facebook.

"You and others who are tempted to act as you did really must understand how serious this is," he said.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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Comments (2)
AranQuin wrote:
Why do they ALWAYS make the hacker the scapegoat? Why? Just the same with Gary McKinnon who penetrated the Pentagon’s systems. The people the prosecutors SHOULD be rounding up are the systems analysts and engineers who designed the appallingly weak, useless Access Controls into these systems. Crikey, if teens can crack them from a PC in their bedrooms, it’s the inventors and testers of the Access Controls who want firing, prosecution and denied further work in IT.

At the very least Facebook should admit it has egg on its face and ask these teens how they did it, pay them to test hopefully better barriers until they crack those too.

Feb 18, 2012 4:54pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
Marylyn wrote:
AranQuin,
I’ve often wondered myself about this: why the hackers are treated as the culprits. Were I McKinnon or Mangham I’d make a helluva noise about how poor the protective measures are, fronting these installations. It’s particularly disgusting that someone can just get into a system of national security like the Pentagon with a bit of hacking. I agree that we should be teasing out the security designers and prosecuting them. McKinnon and Mangham should be capitalising on this issue.

Feb 18, 2012 5:24pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
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