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Hacker is white collar criminal to some, hero to others

A man who could be seen as a hero has been charged with the white collar crimes of hacking and data theft. Andrew Auernheimer is a white hat hacker, or online security expert. This type of hacker looks for flaws in websites and servers and give that information to the creator of the website so that site security can be improved.

Auernheimer is accused of taking customer data that he says was unsecured on AT&T's public web server. He took the data and gave it to a journalist because he felt that AT&T had not taken proper precautions to secure the information. However, instead of thanking him for bringing the matter to their attention, AT&T accused him with stealing proprietary information. He could be facing 10 years if convicted.

His alleged crimes are being prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), and is titled "Conspiracy to access a computer device without authorization." He is also being charged with identity theft because he had access to the names in the AT&T files.

The prosecution says he should have given the information directly to AT&T or the FBI rather than to a journalist.

If Auernheimer is convicted of these white collar crimes, the landscape could change. White hatters will become reluctant to share the information they have found, making it easier for the bad guys, or black hatters, to steal information for illegal purposes, according to a founder of White Hat Security.

Source: VR-Zone, "White Hat Hacker Faces Jail Time For Exposing AT&T's Incompetence," Dec, 10, 2012.

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