Community Service for UK Hacker

A UK student who hacked into US Department of Energy computers responsible for US energy supplies and for the integrity and safety of US nuclear weapons has been sentenced to 200 hours community service.

Sentencing, Judge Goymer told the teen, Joseph James McElroy, that it was understandable that the US government at first thought a terrorist attempt had been made to compromise their computers. McElroy had accessed 17 computers at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Chicago in June 2002, which contained both classified and non-classified atomic weapons and research data.

But he had only used spare storage space on the labs computers and broadband access to upload pirated movies, software and games for him and his friends to use. He had also password protected this space. Lab staff only noticed they had been compromised when back-ups started slowing down and taking much longer than usual. An investigation involving US authorities and Scotland Yard's computer crime unit uncovered McElroy's email address and he was arrested in July last year.

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