"Why have anti-hacking laws at all?" asks anti-virus vendor Sophos

April 07, 2003 Sophos Press Release

Bankstown, �A;New South WalesSophos, a global leader in anti-virus protection for businesses, has reacted with surprise to the news that a man from Bankstown, New South Wales, whose lawyer admitted his client had broken the law by hacking into OptusNet, appears to have been let off scot free.

Stephen Craig Dendtler, aged 22, is reported to have been released without even a conviction recorded against him despite the fact that he gained access to the personal details of several thousand OptusNet customers through a back door in the system. His lawyer is reported to have claimed that this was nothing more than an "intellectual pursuit".

"Why have anti-hacking laws at all if you can break them without fear of penalty?" asks Paul Ducklin, Head of Technology for Asia Pacific at Sophos Anti-Virus in Sydney. "Breaking into remote computer systems and 'just looking around', especially where other people's private and personal information is on view, is simply not acceptable - in just the same way that drinking and driving does not become acceptable 'when the roads are empty'."

Sophos suggests that a small fine or community service order would have been appropriate, allowing the State to make the point that hacking is immoral and illegal without making an example of Mr Dendtler.