CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Sunday, September 14, 2008

University Brings Charges Against White Hat Hacker

"A university student at Carleton is learning that no good deed goes unpunished. After hacking into what was probably a not-so-secure university network, this guy took the time to write a 16-page paper on his methods and sent it to the system admins. Sounds like White Hat behavior to me. Yes, he should have asked permission before trying, but throwing the book at the guy and wrecking his life with criminal charges (which stick for a long time) seems a little excessive.

The university should spend money on hiring some admins with better computer skills and teaching skills rather than paying lawyers. In the Engineering department at my old university, the unofficial policy was that when you broke in, didn't damage anything, and reported the problem and how you broke in, they didn't charge you (if you maliciously caused damage, you usually faced academic sanctions). In some cases, the students were hired or they 'volunteered' for the summer to help secure the servers or fix the hole they found. The result was that Engineering ended up with one of the most secure systems in the university."

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