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'Regrettable' conviction under Computer Misuse Act

A man was convicted in London yesterday of hacking into a charity website, set up after the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, in breach of the Computer Misuse Act.07 Oct 2005

Advert: Phishing conference, London, 27th October 2005Daniel James Cuthbert, a computer consultant formerly with ABN Amro bank, was given a £400 fine and ordered to pay £600 in costs at Horseferry Road Magistrates court yesterday, according to reports.

He fell foul of section one of the Computer Misuse Act, the UK’s main cybercrime legislation, on New Year’s Eve last year.

Cuthbert clicked on a banner ad to donate £30 to the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal. However, when he did not get a confirmation or thank you in response to his donation, he feared that he had fallen for a phishing site, and decided to test the site to make sure. Unfortunately, in doing so he set off the DEC protection systems, and the police were called in.

According to SC Magazine, District Judge Mr Quentin Purdy found Cuthbert guilty with “some considerable regret”, but the wording of the Act made it clear that the security consultant was guilty. "Unauthorised access, however praiseworthy the motives, is an offence," said the judge.

Cuthbert, 28, has lost his job with ABN Amro, and has since found it hard to find alternative employment, according to reports.

He told The Register, “They've now set the bar so high that there should be thousands of convictions for people doing things like these. There will be lot of anger from security professionals and the police will find it harder to get help in future."