Harvard Researcher Arrested for Hacking MIT Network

Friday, July 22, 2011

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Harvard University research fellow Aaron Swartz has been indicted under suspicion of hacking into Michigan Institute of Technology's JSTOR network, a research subscription database.

Swartz is accused of illegally accessing the network and stealing nearly five million academic articles, according to the indictment released earlier this week.

Prosecutors contend that Swartz, who ironically was a student at Harvard's Centre for Ethics, broke into the system via a computer network wiring closet and downloaded so many files that it actually caused the system to crash on several occasions.

Prosecutors believe Swartz intended to distribute the stolen documents on person-to-person file sharing networks.

''Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away," said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.

Swartz pled not guilty in US District Court to charges of unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, wire and computer fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of up to 35 years in jail.

''We don't own any of this content. We really have to responsible stewards of it. We worked hard to find out what was going on. We worked hard to get the data back," said spokeswoman Heidi McGregor.

Harvard University placed Swartz on leave from his position as a research fellow while the legal proceedings are underway.

The unusual case demonstrates the difficulty organizations face when attempting to secure large amounts of data on networks with multiple access points that leave them vulnerable to unauthorized access events.

''Hacking is rampant. Protecting systems is a huge challenge right now for any industry, and in the academic space it's especially challenging because we all want to be as open as we can and have policies that promote use," said McGregor.

Source:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/5313899/Harvard-fellow-charged-with-hacking

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