A British software development student has pled guilty to hacking Facebook between April and May this year, raising alarm among U.S. authorities over the potential for industrial espionage.
Glenn Steven Mangham had shown Yahoo how to improve its security and wanted to do the same for Facebook, BBC reported Tuesday. The 26-year-old was an ethical hacker who had a "high moral stance" and Yahoo had "rewarded" him for pointing out its vulnerabilities previously, defense lawyer Tom Ventham told Southwark Crown Court. "That was his plan here [with Facebook] but the activity was found by accident."
In the BBC report, Ventham also pointed out that Mangham made a "copious" admission to police on what he had done when he was arrested in June.
Prosecutor Sandip Patel said the defendant's actions had raised alarm among U.S. agencies including the FBI over fears of potential industrial espionage attacks.
Mangham's actions were the "most effective and egregious example of hacking into social media that has come before a British court", Patel told the court. He added that the Brit student downloaded his own computer programs on to Facebook's servers and saved "highly sensitive intellectual property" on an external drive to work on it offline. "It required considerable expertise," the lawyer said.
He added that Facebook discovered the security breach during a system check, although Mangham deleted his electronic footprint to cover his tracks. Mangham will be sentenced on Feb. 17 next year.
Facebook said in a statement that the attack did not involve an attempt to compromise or access user data.
This hacking is not the first for the social networking site. The company admitted last October that it blocks around 600,000 suspicious log-ins on a daily basis.
According to an academic paper released last month by researchers at the University of British Columbia, "socialbots" made off with 250GB of personal data belonging to Facebook users.