Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Security Research and Computer Crime - Where do we Draw the Line?

Filed under
Legal

This is interesting - the case of Eric McCarty, a security researcher and sysadmin charged by Federal prosecutors last month with "knowingly having transmitted a code or command to intentionally cause damage" to the University of Southern California's applicant website (I noticed the FBI press release uses the word "sequel" instead of SQL. I hope that wording didn't come from the complaint itself...).

Apparently, McCarty exploited a SQL injection flaw to access student data (which included social security numbers and dates of birth) in the database backing USC's website. He then notified SecurityFocus via email, who notified USC of the vulnerability. USC shut their site down for two weeks while it was being fixed (my guess is the "damage" comes from the fact that USC had to take their applicant website offline, since McCarty didn't do anything malicious with the information). Here is the text of the statute he is alleged to have violated (see section (5)(A)(Sleepy).

The case, and others like it, show the ethical conflict involved in some computer crime prosecutions.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

The Internet Without Connection, Free Endless OS For Emerging Markets

There are four billion people on the planet without PCs or access to affordable personal computers. That figure should surely be tempered with some contextualization i.e. not everybody actually wants to have an Internet connection and many traditional, native or bucolic ways of live do still exist on the planet. Regardless, there are a batch of global initiatives in existence which seek to give computer access to every man, woman and especially child. Endless OS is one such project. The free operating system has been designed explicitly to work in the expensive or restrictive Internet data conditions that often exist in emerging markets where fabulously affordable broadband has yet to arrive. The software itself is built to provide useful information and educational content, with or without an Internet connection. Read more