Friday

Friday 15/11/2002I can see that yesterday's media training is going to come in useful. One of the things we covered was the Computer Misuse Act, which says quite clearly that if you get access to something you're not authorised for, you're guilty.

Friday 15/11/2002
I can see that yesterday's media training is going to come in useful. One of the things we covered was the Computer Misuse Act, which says quite clearly that if you get access to something you're not authorised for, you're guilty. A couple of weeks ago, an enterprising journalist working for Reuters found some financial results on a Swedish company's Web site before they were officially published. The figures were on a Web page with exactly the same format as the previous, published results: all the journalist had to do was retype the URL with the new date, and there it was. Good investigative journalism, or evil hacking? My instinct says the former -- don't put things on a public Web site you don't want found -- but the law is quite clear that it's the latter, and I can see the logic behind it. Now, everyone I know has tried typing in 'obvious' URLs when hunting information on a site with poor navigation: indeed, some site designer friends of mine consider it good practice to make the URL structure obvious in order to encourage this. It's a useful skill, but if the chances of getting nailed for hacking are significant it may be an easy path to unwitting perdition. In a world where the US is actively considering making illegal access a crime with a life sentence, and is also prepared to extradite people in the UK who do this, the consequences may be unspeakable. Next time you're poking around on a website or fiddling with a PDA you found in a pub, it's worth remembering that thirty years in a federal prison may be yours as a free bonus. To have your say online click on TalkBack and go to the ZDNet UK forums.

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