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Wired: 'Good Sam' Hacker 'Fesses Up

Sep 28, 2001, 13:54 (14 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Declan McCullagh)

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"It seemed like such a straightforward example of prosecutorial overeagerness: An Oklahoma "Good Samaritan" was being investigated by the Justice Department for helping a newspaper fix a website security hole.

The outcry among the geek community last month began with a story on LinuxFreak.org entitled "Cyber Citizen Lands Felony Charges?" Sites such as Slashdot soon picked up the tale of 24-year-old Brian K. West as evidence of out-of-control, tech-clueless government lawyers, and urged sympathizers to e-mail the U.S. Attorney in charge of the prosecution.

Making the story even more appealing to the open-source community was the Microsoft angle: West was said to have reported to the Poteau (Oklahoma) Daily News and Sun a security flaw in Microsoft NT 4.0 IIS and Microsoft FrontPage.

But a guilty plea that West signed tells a far different story -- and shows how easily a well-meaning community of programmers and system administrators can be led astray."

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