Cyber vandals strike library

Anonymous Patron sentthis story from the "Jackson (MI)Citizen Patriot. 'A political message or just high-tech hijinks? Either way, the Jackson District Library paid the price over the weekend.
A hacker managed to shut down the library system's Web page late Saturday and early Sunday, posting what amounted to virtual graffiti. The hacker's work was cleared up by late Sunday morning.

Computer users who tried to access the library's Web page, instead got a message from the Hi-Tech Hate Activist Team!'"

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Interesting Disclaimer:

I've never seen this before, from that site:The Jackson District Library does not restrict access to material nor shield users from controversial information. Parents of minor children must assume responsibility for their children's use of the Internet through the Library's connection.

But this is good hacking.....

This is anti-Bush hacking, so it should be ok. Shouldn't it? I'm just so confused by which stand to take.

Re:But this is good hacking.....

This is anti-Bush hacking, so it should be ok. Shouldn't it?

That depends on how you want to look at it. One the one hand, it is a kind of trespassing and vandalism, on the other hand, it could probably be defended under freedom of expression. I wouldn't think of it as political speech, myself, off the top of my head, because there are plenty of services that offer free web space where you can put up any kind of nonsense at all. My tendency is to chalk this up to some cracker glorying in a bit of minor mayhem and using it to advance his political stance secondarily.

This is not good hacking.....

Are you saying that the hacking can be defended under freedom of expression? Surely not.

I would agree that Bush-haters have a right to express such sentiments. That is entailed under freedom of speech. It is not , however, okay to compromise someone else's machine to post it.

Once a machine has been compromised, even if the compromise appears on the surface to be trivial, that machine can no longer be trusted. The only possible exception is in the case where all system files have been registered in filesystem integrity checking software like Tripwire, with the signatures stored on read-only media or not on the computer, in which case one can tell which files have been modified by the attacker and which not.

The library, if they have the resources to do things right, will probably have to rebuild the machine from operating system up, and then patch the problem. And if they don't have the resources to do things right, they will continue to be vulnerable others who may not be satisfied with political grafitti. What if this is a small or medium-sized library, with little or no dedicated IT staff? You can read some LISNewzsters' journals indicating that they do both reference and IT support. What a headache for someone in that situation.

My point is not political at all. I would be just as incensed if they had posted some sentiment I liked. Hacking of this sort is not terrorism, but consider the strain it places on the resources of libraries already struggling in a difficult economy.

Good idea

I think it's a good thing to be completely up front with patrons about what, if any filtering, takes place in a library. Whatever you think about filtering, this library is to be commended for being up front.

Re:But this is good hacking.....

This is vandalism. Vandalizing other people's property is not "freedom of expression".

Re:But this is good hacking.....

That depends on how you want to look at it. One the one hand, it is a kind of trespassing and vandalism, on the other hand, it could probably be defended under freedom of expression.

I was feeling a bit puckish this morning and that is why I posted the sarcastic post. Little did I know that I'd have a bite. Wow, you've got a pretty broad definition of freedom of expression. Can I break into your house or apartment and rearrange all your furniture under the guise of freedom of expression? Can I then break all your furniture under freedom of expression? Then again, it might be "freedom of expression" but it isn't protected "freedom of expression".

Re:This is not good hacking.....

Are you saying that the hacking can be defended under freedom of expression? Surely not.

It depends on the judge. Best line I ever heard about courtrooms and judges was from the show Picket Fences. It was in the third season when the D.A. of Rome, Wisconsin, had his fugitive brother show up on his doorstep. He was trying to talk the con into surrendering and said to him, "We'll try to get you a new trial! -- the judge in this town is crazy! He could do anything!"

Besides, that computer was public property. A slick shyster would likely allow as to how it constituted a (perhaps limited) public forum.

Re:But this is good hacking.....

I was feeling a bit puckish this morning and that is why I posted the sarcastic post.

Oh, well, there's your problem; you can't do sarcasm.

Here's a clue: seven percent of verbal communications is achieved through words -- the rest is achieved through vocal inflections and body language -- and this is a written medium.

Wow, you've got a pretty broad definition of freedom of expression.

And you've got fairly limited literacy skills. I did not write my definition of freedom of expression, what I wrote was: [On] the one hand, it is a kind of trespassing and vandalism, on the other hand, it could probably be defended under freedom of expression.

Pay close attention to that: "probably".

Can I break into your house or apartment and rearrange all your furniture under the guise of freedom of expression?

Ah, now here you're getting into sticky legalistic issues. The first of those issues being: is it welcome behaviour? I understand that sort of thing is done on occasion by close friends, and it is considered to be no more than a practical joke.

Can I then break all your furniture under freedom of expression?

Ah, more fallacious thinking. A first rate straw man argument, that one is. Breaking into someone's apartment with malicious intent and perpetrating mayhem cannot constitute a practical joke by any stretch of the imagination just because you can break into someone's apartment without malicious intent and rearrange all his furniture.

Re:But this is good hacking.....

As I said, it may be "freedom of expression" but it isn't protected "freedom of expression" and therefore the hackers may face some type of legal action.

Pay close attention to that "probably".

Ah, the pay close attention argument. Now there is a difference between probably and possibly. Probably means that it is more likely to be true. I suspect you meant possibly. That it is capable of happening.

Ah, now here you're getting into sticky legalistic issues.

But isn't the legalistic issue what this is all about?

The first of those issues being: is it welcome behaviour? I understand that sort of thing is done on occasion by close friends, and it is considered to be no more than a practical joke.

As far as I can tell, this hacking was unwelcomed behaviour. Consent (either implicit or expressed) would not make it unwelcomed behaviour. I bet the library didn't consent to this hacking.

Ah, more fallacious thinking. A first rate straw man argument, that one is. Breaking into someone's apartment with malicious intent and perpetrating mayhem cannot constitute a practical joke by any stretch of the imagination just because you can break into someone's apartment without malicious intent and rearrange all his furniture.

But what if I didn't act with a malicious intent and instead I meant it as a practical joke?

Re:But this is good hacking.....

Probably means that it is more likely to be true. I suspect you meant possibly. That it is capable of happening.

No, I meant probably. You likely interpreted my statement to mean that the action would be successfully defended under freedom of expression. (It could, but that's a separate issue.) If the cracker gets busted and charged, the defense lawyer could enter a plea of not guilty under freedom of expression. If there is no precedent ruling that such a defence is invalid, the judge could allow the trial to proceed under that defence. Or create the precedent by ruling against it. Again: it depends on the judge.

Whether the defendant gets found guilty or not is a whole other thing.

But what if I didn't act with a malicious intent and instead I meant it as a practical joke?

Then you are incredibly naive. Try it. Let me know how it goes. In mail, not in person.

Re:But this is good hacking.....

Where to begin on this pile of misinformation. I hope you are not a criminal lawyer because I pity your clients.

If the cracker gets busted and charged, the defense lawyer could enter a plea of not guilty under freedom of expression. If there is no precedent ruling that such a defence is invalid, the judge could allow the trial to proceed under that defence. Or create the precedent by ruling against it. Again: it depends on the judge.

You are being silly, the defense lawyer can say anything he/she wants but that won't make it happen. Judges can't just make up the law, they have to apply existing law be it in case law, statutes and constitutions. It doesn't depend on the judge, it depends on the law.

Using certain defenses is a question of law and judges determine if a defense can be used. If the judge misapplies the law, then the appellate court corrects the error in the questions of law.

These unauthorized access to computers crimes are governed by state and federal legislation and the case law that has interprets those statutes. One federal statute is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act 18 U.S.C. § 1030 et. seq.

Moreover, the law is pretty clear that where an individual violates an otherwise valid criminal statute, the First Amendment does not act as a shield to preclude the prosecution of that individual simply because his criminal conduct involves speech. U.S. v. Riggs, 743 F.Supp. 556, 560 (N.D.Ill. 1990) Riggs was a hacking case where the defendant claimed a First Amendment defense.

Another case where the First Amendment defense was slam-dunked was U.S. v. Fernandez, 1993 WL 88197 (S.D.N.Y. 1993). This was a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C.A. § 1030 et. seq.) prosecution against a guy who intentionally accessed computers without authorization. In Fernandez, the court rejected the defendant's prosecution that the present action infringed his rights of free speech, free press, and freedom of assembly, arguing that computer communication resembles town meetings in the broad sharing and dissemination of information, and that the government may not sweep so broadly so as to prevent the dissemination of information relating to the new technology, noting that theft, including accessing computers without authorization and using information therein to cause damage or loss to others, can never be the type of activity protected by the First Amendment.

Syndicate content