26-year-old Glenn Steven Mangham, a student in the UK, admitted hacking into Facebook, a court heard this week. Mangham pleaded guilty to breaching the social network's security systems between April 27 and May 9. He was arrested on June 2 and released from prison on bail after spending two months behind bars. Four conditions were attached to his bail, including that he live and sleep at his home address, not access the Internet, and not have any devices in the house that can access the Web.
Mangham had previously shown Yahoo how to improve its security and wanted to do the same for Facebook, the court heard, according to the BBC. Prosecutor Sandip Patel said the defendant's actions caused concern among a number of American authorities, including the FBI, and that Mangham's actions were the "most effective and egregious example of hacking into social media that has come before a British court. It required considerable expertise." He managed to download "highly sensitive intellectual property."
"This attack did not involve an attempt to compromise or access user data," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
Facebook discovered the infiltration during a system check. Tom Ventham, Mangham's defence lawyer, said his client was an ethical hacker who had a "high moral stance" and Yahoo had "rewarded" him for pointing out its vulnerabilities. "That was his plan here but the activity was found by accident," said Ventham.
Mangham used various programs to get past Facebook's defenses, and faces five charges for repeatedly trying to penetrate the defenses of the social network under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. More specifically, Mangham is accused of downloading a computer program to secure unauthorized access to Facebook, of attempting to hack into Facebook's Mailman server, of using PHP script to secure access to Facebook's Phabricator server, of sharing a PHP script intended to hack into that server, and of securing repeated access to another Facebook server.
Facebook runs a Puzzle server to allow computer programmers to test their skills. A Mailman server is typically used by firms to run internal and external email distribution lists. The Phabricator is a set of tools designed by the company to make it easier to build Facebook apps.
Mangham will be sentenced on February 17, 2012.
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