As expected, a second teenager who hacked into Apple servers and downloaded internal company documents has also been granted probation by an Australian court. It follows the same outcome for his fellow hacker last year.
The first teen was 16 years old at the time the attacks began, while the second was even younger, at just 13 …
The two high school students managed to obtain employee-level access to servers, and were able over an extended period to download around a terabyte of what were described as ‘secure files’ (the original report said it was 90GB, but much more was discovered later).
Apple eventually detected the access. The two teens used VPNs and other tools to hide their locations and IP addresses, but Apple’s systems also logged the serial numbers of the MacBooks used to carry out the attacks. These serial numbers were linked to purchase records to enable the hackers to be identified, who were from Australia.
Apple reported the attacks to the FBI, which carried out a joint investigation with the Australian Federal Police.
The court cases
The first teen appeared in court last year.
The courts in both cases acknowledged that the attacks were serious. In the first:
A magistrate told a Children’s Court that the hacking was ‘serious, sustained, and sophisticated’ [and the hackers] had “modified and copied a large volume of data that was sensitive both from a privacy and commercial point of view,” and showed a high degree of skill and persistence.
In the second, reported by ABC.
The manner in which the world functions is one that is heavily reliant on computer technology and those who unlawfully interfere with those systems can do enormous amounts of damage.
However, the courts also took the view that there were three mitigating factors: both offenders were minors, had meant no harm and hadn’t appreciated the seriousness of their crimes. Both had naively imagined that by proving their computer talents to Apple, they might be offered jobs at the Cupertino company. For that reason, both avoided prison sentences.
The older teen who hacked into Apple servers was sentenced to eight months probation, the second nine months.
Magistrate David White did not record a conviction and placed him on a $500 bond to be of good behaviour for nine months.
“He is clearly someone who is a gifted individual when it comes to information technology, that being said, those who have this advantage of being gifted doesn’t give them the right to abuse that gift,” he said […]
Magistrate White said that he accepted that the boy was highly regarded at his school and since the offending he had used his technology talents in a positive way.
Apple didn’t have anything new to say about the cases, but referred us to its original statement.
At Apple, we vigilantly protect our networks and have dedicated teams of information security professionals that work to detect and respond to threats. In this case, our teams discovered the unauthorized access, contained it, and reported the incident to law enforcement.
We regard the data security of our users as one of our greatest responsibilities and want to assure our customers that at no point during this incident was their personal data compromised.