Some kids think they can't get into trouble for hacking computer systems and that hacking big networks like the phone company, the military, or NASA is harmless fun. But that's not true, as one teenager in Boston found out recently.
The hacker and some of his friends found a way to hack into a computer that belongs to the phone company and that directs telephone traffic in the Boston area. After he got into the system, the hacker decided to reboot the computer, which basically made it crash. The first time he did this, the hacker completely shut off phone service for six hours to a regional airport so that the air traffic control tower had an extrememly hard time communicating. The second time he crashed the computer, he cut off phone service to about 600 homes.
The phone company reported this to the United States Secret Service, which investigated the case and indentified all the kids involved. Although the Justice Department does not prosecute juveniles very often, the United States Attorney's Office in Boston charged the ringleader of the group with several serious crimes.
Even though the student won't go to jail, he did receive very serious punishment: he lost his computer, must pay $5000 to the telephone company, and must work in the community for free for 250 hours. He will also be on probation for the next two years, and during that time he is not allowed to use any computer with a modem. That means, of course, that he is off the Internet and all other networks.
DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! If you think about it, it's pretty easy to see why this student got into so much trouble. How would you feel if you were one of the 600 houses that lost phone service? What if you needed to call 911? How would you feel if you had been flying into the airport that lost telephone service?
The best way to stay out of trouble with computers is to imagine before you do something how you'd feel if someone did it to you. You wouldn't like it if someone opened your mail or looked into your bedroom windows, and if you wouldn't do this either, don't hack into computers.
Lots of kids know enough about computers to hack into big networks, but so what? It doesn't mean you're smart, it just means you don't mind hurting other people--because it does hurt them. People are not going to want to hire you to protect computers if you've been a hacker. It's a question of trust, not skill.
If you like computers, don't use your brains to hack systems, invade other people's privacy, and take away their networks. Hacking can get you in a whole lot more trouble than you think and is a completely creepy thing to do. If you're so smart, use that computer to do great things!
Article courtesy of the US Government.
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