Free imprisoned AT&T hacker now, says EFF
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act was improperly used to convict and sentence Auernheimer to three-plus years in prison, digital rights group and friends contend
Computerworld - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a team of legal experts has called on the U.S. Court of Appeals to free Andrew Auernheimer, a computer hacker recently sentenced to 41 months in prison for illegally accessing data from AT&T's networks.
In a motion filed Monday, the digital rights group claimed that the government's prosecution of Auernheimer was based on an improper application of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), and the the sentence was far too long for his crimes.
"The government set out to make an example of Auernheimer," EFF staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury wrote in a blog post on Monday. "But the only message this sends to the security-research community is that if you discover a vulnerability, you could go to jail for sounding the alarm."
Auernheimer made headlines in June 2010, when he and a partner, Daniel Spitler, used an automated script they called the iPad 3G Account Slurper to extract from AT&T servers the email addresses and SIM card ID numbers of more than 100,000 iPad owners.
The data included the email addresses of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel and other well-known figures, and was subsequently leaked to reporters.
Auernheimer and Spitler maintained that they did not directly hack into AT&T systems, nor did they misuse passwords to gain access to data. Instead, they said an automated script was used to download data that the was publicly accessible from a website because of poor server configuration.
The duo claim they accessed the data only to show weaknesses in AT&T's technology and to convince the company to better secure its data.
However, prosecutors charged both with violating provisions of the CFAA, which makes it illegal for individuals to knowingly access a computer without authorization, to exceed authorized use of a system, or to access information valued at more than $5,000 from a system.
The CFAA was enacted by Congress in 1986.
Prosecutors claimed the caper was a self-serving stunt by Auernheimer to promote himself and Goatse Security, a security group to which he belonged. The Goatse team's aim is to expose online security flaws.
The prosecutors noted that AT&T had to spend more than $73,000 for breach notifications as a result of the disclosure of the alleged server weakness.
Spitler accepted a plea bargain in 2011 but Auernheimer decided to fight the charges in court. He was convicted in November 2012 and sentenced in March to 41 months in federal prison, the maximum sought by prosecutors.
In the motion filed this week, the EFF contended that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act was improperly applied to prosecute Auernheimer. The group contended that the law is, in intent and spirit, an online anti-trespassing law targeting criminal hackers who break into systems to steal or sabotage data.
- Arrests made after international cyber-ring targets StubHub
- International police operation disrupts Shylock banking Trojan
- Spamhaus pushes for arrests of alleged DDoS participants
- Accused Russian point-of-sale hacker arrested, will face U.S. charges
- No-IP regains control of some domains wrested by Microsoft
- Microsoft legal action cramping other hacking campaigns, Kaspersky says
- Microsoft admits technical error in IP takeover, but No-IP still down
- QuickPoll: Why hasn't Windows XP come under attack from hackers?
- Cybercrime losses top $400 billion worldwide
- U.S., foreign agents disrupt Gamover Zeus botnet
- Enable secure remote access to 3D data without sacrificing visual perfomance Design and manufacturing companies must adapt quickly to the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy. To speed time to market for...
- Virtually Delivered High Performance 3D Graphics "A picture is worth a thousand words." That old phrase is as true today as it ever was. Pictures (i.e., those with heavy...
- Best Practices for Securing Hadoop Historically, Apache Hadoop has provided limited security capabilities. To protect sensitive data being stored and analyzed in Hadoop, security architects should use a...
- Top Tips for Securing Big Data Environments: Why Big Data Doesn't Have to Mean Big Security Challenges Organizations must come to terms with the security challenges they introduce. As big data environments ingest more data, organizations will face significant risks...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Responding to New SSL Cybersecurity Threat The featured Gartner research examines current strategies to address new SSL cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!