The Tech Herald

Facebook hacker slapped with prison sentence

by Steven Mostyn - Feb 20 2012, 16:58

Image: Facebook.

Hackers with an eye on forcing their way into Facebook should take note of the following: A software development student in the United Kingdom has been jailed after attempting to crack the world’s leading social network.

In a case described by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as “the most extensive and flagrant incidence of social media hacking to be brought before British courts,” 26-year-old Glenn Mangham received an eight-month sentence for his actions.

According to prosecutor Sandip Patel, Mangham acted with “determination and undoubted ingenuity” while working on a sophisticated “mini-project” he claims was designed to reveal holes in Facebook security.

Between April and May of 2011, Mangham stole invaluable intellectual property from the network after he “unlawfully accessed and hacked into the social media website… and its computers… from his bedroom in Yorkshire,” Patel explained.

In passing sentence, Judge McCreath said that although Mangham had not intended to pass on or profit from the illictly-gained data, his hack inflicted serious harm to Faceook’s structure, which cost the network some $200,000 USD to remedy.

The custodial sentence was handed down despite Tom Ventham, Mangham’s legal representative, insisting that his client was an ethical hacker with a “high morale stance” who had previously worked with Yahoo to point out vulnerabilities in its online protection.  

“You and others who are tempted to act as you did really must understand how serious this is,” said Judge McCreath. “The creation of that risk, the extent of that risk, and the cost of putting it right mean at the end of it all I’m afraid a prison sentence in inevitable.”

“You accessed the very heart of the system of an international business of massive size,” he added, “so this was not just fiddling about in the business records of some tiny business of no great importance.”

Facebook has applauded the court’s decision and maintains that Mangham’s hack did not result in the compromise of any personal user data.

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