Have you heard about the worm that hurt Twitter recently? Evidently a 17 year old kid is taking credit for the attack. He claimed that he hoped to get some job offers from it, but why would a young person risk serious prosecution for something like this? Should he even get in trouble, when he was just exposing a serious flaw in Twitter that could have caused much more damage than it did?
This reminds me of some local guys who attended the same university I did. One of them decided to download this program that would show openings in a network. Well, when he ran it and discovered some pretty significant amounts of personal data that were open for anyone with the know-how to find. This information included names, addresses, phone number, and other highly sensitive data. Of course, he was caught and he and his roommates had their computers confiscated by the FBI for a full year while the FBI tried to decide what the intent was behind his 'hack'. What is laughable is that he was not mining for information, and, in my opinion, he should have been rewarded for exposing this very serious problem to the university. Instead of someone malicious using the information, the problem was quickly fixed. And he was investigated. I am not sure if he was ever charged with anything, because apparently the only illegal thing he did was the illegally download the program. Everything else was within his rights, and he didn't save any of the information he found. But, of course it was pretty big news locally, and even on the national level.
So, should Michael Mooney be charged with anything? While I do not condone the manner in which he proceeded, he did demonstrate to Twitter how lax their security is. Although his methods were unscrupulous, were his intentions much more altruistic? Who knows. In any case, it is one of the most interesting cases of media literacy in the extreme.