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RE: Pentester convicted..
From: "Levenglick, Jeff" <JLevenglick () fhlbatl com>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2006 13:28:09 -0400

The law is mostly based on interpretation. One 'expert' says one thing and someone else says another.

Based on your text, you may have broken in or a good defense would prove you did not.

BUT.. Based on the text from the link:

 Posted by Hemos on Wednesday May 10, @09:08AM

   gsch writes "'In 2004, Bret McDanel was convicted of violating section 1030 when he e-mailed truthful information 
about a security problem to the customers of his former employer. The prosecution argued that McDanel had accessed the 
company e-mail server by sending the messages, and that the access was unauthorized within the meaning of the law 
because the company didn't want this information distributed. They even claimed the integrity of the system was 
impaired because a lot more people (customers) now knew that the system was insecure.


I would agree that he was in the wrong.
Why..

1) Based only on the above text, it says that he sent the mail from the company server. He could have sent it from his 
own email account. He instead used
Someone else's server and he was not authorized to do so. 

2) He could have let the company know of the problem first and given them time to fix the problem. Instead he emailed 
the customers first. That could destroy a company. Funny how it was a company he worked for?

Using your example:

Your walking along main street and stop in front of a store that you used to work for. Because you used to work there, 
you have more knowledge of the business then the average person. You push the front door and notice that it opens if 
you hit the lock a certain way. So you enter the store, get a
Pen and paper from the store and write a large sign that says:  This store is not very secure. Just hit the lock a few 
times on the left side and the door will open. You then sign it, tape the sign to the window and leave.

If there is a breaking are you just as guilty? Yes.
If they loose customers are you at fault? Yes.
Did you tell the truth on the sign? Yes.

-----Original Message-----
From: Ian Scott [mailto:ian () pairowoodies com] 
Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2006 12:11 AM
To: pen-test () securityfocus com
Subject: Re: Pentester convicted..

So, one night, I'm taking a stroll along main street in my town.  I stop for a rest, and happen to lean up against the 
front door of a store.

I notice the door gives a little bit - and out of curiousity and concern, push a little harder.

The door opens.

I immediately stop what I am doing, and notify the owners and the authorities that the premises are insecure.

By the absolute legal definition, I have indeed "broke and entered" the premises.

Where the hell is motive in all of this?  I think that unless there was motive to do some harm, this conviction is 
utterly ridiculous.

That's my quickie opinion on the matter.

Best,

Ian Scott

On May 10, 2006 10:20 am, William Hancock wrote:
Hey there pen-testers, take this with a grain of salt, it just got me 
excited.  I am really interested in everyones opinion on the matter or 
corporate responsibility and ownership.

<RANT>
In an article posted to slashdot today
(http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/05/10/112259&from=rss) a man 
has been convicted of hacking when he casually and helpfully reported 
a security vulnerability to the owners of a web site, in this case The 
University of Southern California.  It reads like it was some sort of 
simple SQL injection and upon gleaning the information he reported it.

What are we to do as a community I ask?  We should we, the good guys, 
who are paid for our knowledge and ability to exploit mistakes, 
oversights, and weaknesses then professionally report them to aid in 
the securing of information capital (or anyone who reports the flaw 
for that
matter) worry about prosecution.  It lends itself to a forcing the 
technical community to sit on their laurels and wait for the people 
who don't report issues to exploit them.  Further it sounds very clear 
that had he not notified them, they would have never known.

A security pro notices a flaw, checks to make sure he is not on crack 
by 'flipping a bit', deems the threat viable and is likely to be 
exploited, notifies the owners, then get arrested and charged with 
unauthorized access.  We, as a or even The security community, should 
push corporations, governments, and organized body's to take 
responsibility and ownership of their problems.  If they publish a 
site that is flawed or exposing information then they are authorizing 
the retrieval of that information.  I'm not advocating that they laws 
should allow any jerk to try and brute his or her way in to a public 
or private web site, but come on.

If someone leaves their wallet in the park with no guard or 
protection, I pick it up and bring it back to the owner, the owner 
didn't want me to have it but I brought it back to him.  Why in the 
hell should I have to go to jail for returning it to him, why should 
I/we be punished for doing the right thing?

I acknowledge this to be a rant but there must but some way to insist 
that when people make something available to the public that it is 
their responsibility to safeguard it and appreciate not persecute 
someone who let's them know (for free I might add) that a weakness 
exists.  This is simple scapegoating, the University did something not 
advisable as a good practice and instead of owning up to it they 
villafied a professional pen-tester for offering valid advice.

</RANT>


Thanks,
Bill


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