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San Diego Man Sentenced For Hacking USC

A resident of San Diego was found to be hacking into the University of Southern California's (USC) application system. On December 21, 2006 he was sent into home detention for six months under electronic monitoring. Eric McCarty, the man from San Diego admitted guilt for intercepting a protected computer before a felony count in September 2006.

U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson said that McCarty accepted the terms of the sentence including the requirement to pay $36,761 restitution to USC. McCarty considered the sentence agreement with the government as 'reasonable'.

According to prosecutors, McCarty hacked Social Security numbers, names, addresses, dates of birth and applicants' passwords into the USC site in June last year. Following this breach of the USC's online student application system the University had to close the site for ten days.

McCarty's lawyers said that after the sentencing, the system was hacked by McCarty to attract notice to flaws in USC's security and beat drums about the entire incident earn "street cred" among people involved in computer security.

McCarty did not have any financial gain but his intentions compelled USC to better its computer security that was so thin that a nine-year old could control it, said Valerio Romano - the lawyer.

Michael Zweiback - Assistant U.S. Attorney - said that McCarty defended himself like a home burglar who holds the faulty door-lock liable for his intrusion. He said during the court session McCarty was proved guilty of other incidents of hacking too. Zweiback described McCarty as a "glory hacker" who was seeking to enter into the university's system & then boast about it before everyone.

The database of USC had information about birth dates & Social Security numbers of approximately 275,000 applicants since 1997, said prosecutors. On examining McCarty's home computer it was found that he seized information of only seven people.

USC sent a notification letter to all persons affected by the security breach. After the sentence, McCarty lost his job. Moreover, after completing his six-month home detention he will be on probation for two and a half years. Till then McCarty will be prohibited from using a computer, an Internet connection and a cellular phone.

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