US Intelligence Analyst faces "hacking" charges

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US Intelligence Analyst faces "hacking" charges

Postby infinite_ » Fri Sep 18, 2009 11:50 am

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/0 ... y_defense/

The story goes that a US Intelligence Analyst is facing hacking charges for using a password sent to him to log into a system that was being used nation-wide as part of a terrorism investigation.


The analyst claims he is being made a scapegoat because someone screwed up -- the password wasn't meant to be sent to him or thousands of other analysts. He also states the matter was investigated internally and had been resolved as an "innocent mistake".

The Government claims that he used the password to access a system that wasn't part of his job, and that he ignored a security warning in the message containing the password. The Government also claims that by accessing the system, and confidential information, he "endangered the terrorism investigation".


While I think a person in his position should have had the sense to read the message carefully and notice the security warning before using the password, I think the hacking charges are a load of crap. Every Government is quick to throw around "hacking" charges these days, most probably because they're so vague and many people still don't understand them.

“In my opinion, go after the person who provided me with that information,” he says. “I was just a consumer. I wasn’t the person who put that username and password out there for tens out thousands of analysts to see.”

But, while hacking charges are thrown around, I don't think ^ is entirely correct, either: sure, the person who sent out the password should be reprimanded, but the analyst should have known better or at least exercised better judgement.
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Re: US Intelligence Analyst faces "hacking" charges

Postby infinite_ » Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:09 pm

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/0 ... mery_plea/

Update.

The analyst, Brian Montgomery, has made a plea deal for a misdemeanor charge instead. Wired reports that he will most likely get probation, but a 1 year prison sentence isn't entirely off the table.
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Re: US Intelligence Analyst faces "hacking" charges

Postby SLaX » Fri Sep 25, 2009 7:26 am

Load of crud. They shouldn't have sent him a password. But they do throw around hacking charges really easily these days. The definition of "hacking" really is so vague. It can even simply mean knowing enough about how a computer or program works that you can make it work better/faster by applying some of your knowledge. It doesn't have to always be black hat.
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Re: US Intelligence Analyst faces "hacking" charges

Postby infinite_ » Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:06 pm

SLaX wrote:Load of crud. They shouldn't have sent him a password. But they do throw around hacking charges really easily these days. The definition of "hacking" really is so vague. It can even simply mean knowing enough about how a computer or program works that you can make it work better/faster by applying some of your knowledge. It doesn't have to always be black hat.

Agreed: the password shouldn't have been sent to him and the person who sent it should also be prosecuted for distributing information relating to national security. I doubt that will happen, though, and I do believe he was being used as a scapegoat. That said, he was in the wrong and should have had the sense to not use the password, or, at the very least, report the mistake once it was realised.

If hacking (to the layman) wasn't all black hat, I do wonder what they would call good hackers? "Security professional" comes to mind, but even that's thrown around willy-nilly... Anyway, it's the typical problem of the plebs not knowing/understanding what hacking is. Unfortunately, black hat hackers, crackers and script kiddies do get the public's attention and this is why the word "hacking" is now attributed to anyone who breaks into or misuses systems. Even the law confuses the terminology. But what can you do?
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