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British Student Admits Facebook Hack

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A student from York has admitted hacking into Facebook, but denies it was with malicious intent

A software development student from York has appeared in court charged with hacking into Facebook.

Glenn Mangham admitted hacking into the social network between April and May of this year, but argued that he only wanted to show Facebook how to improve its security as he had done for Yahoo.

“Considerable expertise”

Prosecutor Sandip Patel said that his actions had caused a number of American authorities, including the FBI, to fear an industrial espionage attack and that he had hacked into the site with “considerable expertise.”

Mangham was charged in August with offences relating to the Computer Misue Act, including three counts of unauthorised access to computer material, unauthorised acts with intent to impair the operation of a computer and making supplying or obtaining articles for use in an offence, as a result of what was described at the time as one of the first investigations into attempts to illegally access Facebook.

Mangham downloaded his own programs onto Facebook’s servers and saved “highly sensitive intellectual data property” onto his hard drive for offline use. Facebook discovered his actions during a system check, even though he deleted his electronic footprint.

Patel described Mangham’s actions as the “most effective and egregious example of hacking into social media that has come before a British court.”

Mangham’s lawyer Tom Ventham claimed that the defendant was an ethical hacker who had a high moral stance and that Yahoo had been grateful to him for pointing out its vulnerabilities. He also argued that Mangham was simply trying to help Facebook do the same, but that his “was found by accident.”

No one is safe

The case is the latest in a number of security issues which have plagued the social network, which has over 500 million users.

In February, Facebook was forced to close a loophole which allowed attackers to gain access to user data, while a malicious piece of software known as Dorkbot took advantage of a vulnerability in the site’s chat feature.

An embarrassing incident earlier this month proved that no one was safe from potential threats when a tool that was intended to flag inappropriate content was exploited in order to expose CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s private photos. This followed an incident in January when a hacker gained control of Zuckeberg’s fan page and posted messages on his wall.