Sophos, 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