Australian teen accepts police caution to avoid hacking charge

Joshua Rogers' case illustrates the fine legal line computer security researchers tread

Joshua Rogers

Joshua Rogers

An Australian teenager has accepted a caution from police rather than face charges for discovering a vulnerability in the website of one of the country's public transport authorities late last year.Joshua Rogers of Melbourne accepted the caution, he told IDG News Service via email on Monday. He will not face charges, and the caution -- an acknowledgement that he broke the law -- will be expunged from his record in five years if he does not commit the same offense in that period.Rogers' case illustrates the fine line that computer security researchers tread when hunting for software vulnerabilities on public websites.Large technology companies such as Google and Facebook encourage security researchers to probe their sites and pay rewards for supplying security information. The rewards are paid on the condition that researchers do not share the information publicly until the problem has been fixed.But without that kind of blessing, activities that may be research could easily be considered malicious and violate computer crime laws.

Rogers found a SQL injection vulnerability on the website of Public Transport Victoria (PTV), which runs the state's transport system. The type of vulnerability affects databases that do not filter certain kinds of input correctly.Rogers found he gained access to some 600,000 records, including partial credit card numbers, addresses, emails, passwords, birth dates, phone numbers and senior citizen card numbers. He maintained he downloaded two or three records from the database as part of his research, then deleted the data. He notified PTV of his findings via email on Dec. 26, a public holiday in Australia, copying 13 employees of the agency on the correspondence. After not receiving a response, he contacted Fairfax Media. Its Melbourne paper, The Age, covered the story.At the time, PTV decline to comment and said the incident was under investigation. Then in May, between six and eight police officers came to Rogers' residence and seized various electronic equipment, including USB sticks, his Samsung phone, a laptop and a server, Rogers wrote on his blog.Rogers was interviewed at a police station the same day and told he may have violated a computer crime law that prohibits "unauthorized access, modification or impairment with intent to commit a serious offense." According to Australia's Cybercrime Act of 2001, the offense is punishable by between five years and life in prison. On July 2, police gave Rogers the option of admitting he broke the law by signing the caution."The other option was to go through the whole process of being charged, and then going to court," he wrote via email. "It's not like I could have said 'I didn't do it!', after all."

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitylegalPublic Transport VictoriaExploits / vulnerabilities

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?