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08 Mar 2007

Jailtime for US law database hacker

Celebrities amongst those said to have had information stolen

Behind bars

Perras, who hacked into computers to steal information, has been jailed for one year.

IT security and control firm Sophos is welcoming news that a man who pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit computer fraud and identity theft has been sentenced to one year's imprisonment by a Florida law court.

19-year-old Justin A Perras of New Bedford, MA, was one of five co-defendants who admitted hacking into computers at information management and workflow solutions provider LexisNexis. The computers were accessed using Trojan horses and social engineering tricks, in order to make unauthorised entries into the company's Accurint database, which is used by law enforcement agencies amongst others. Perras was sentenced to one year in prison, followed by three years supervised release and 100 hours of community service.

According to The Washington Post three of the men revealed they had obtained addresses and social security information on Hollywood stars such as Demi Moore, Laurence Fishburne, Paris Hilton, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The other defendants were sentenced in December 2006 for their roles in the conspiracy, and between them must pay LexisNexis $105,750 in compensation. Sophos experts note that the five culprits have been banned from using computers following the discovery of their crimes.

"The US law enforcement agencies must be congratulated again for another big computer hacking arrest, which will hopefully deter others from following in the footsteps of Perras, who's going nowhere fast for the next few years," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "The case demonstrates the value of swiftly reporting any network intrusions to the appropriate authorities, however it's likely that with Accurint, the fact that it was used by law enforcement gave the US secret service an extra spring in its step in tracking down the perpetrators."

Sophos recommends companies protect their desktops, servers and gateways with a consolidated solution thwart the threats of viruses, spyware, phishing and spam.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.