Penn student jailed for 90 days in hacking case

In a rare misdemeanor hacking case in federal court, a University of Pennsylvania bioengineering student was sentenced Oct. 21 to 90 days in prison and five years’ probation for crashing a school server in 2006, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson sentenced Ryan Goldstein, 22, to 90 days in a halfway house, followed by 180 days of house arrest, and ruled that the defendant, a senior at the university, can serve his sentence during a leave of absence from school or during the summer. Goldstein, who told the judge he had suffered a "computer addiction" since he was 12, was also fined $30,000 and prohibited from using a computer for five years, except for work or school activities. In February, Goldstein admitted to a single misdemeanor count of aiding and abetting another hacker–Owen Thor Walker, a New Zealand teen known as AKILL–in gaining unauthorized access to a Penn computer server by using a botnet. A botnet is a network of computers that have been commandeered secretly by hackers and programmed to launch coordinated, massive "denial of service" attacks on other computers, crashing or immobilizing the targets. Goldstein and Walker used Penn’s computer system as a staging ground for a 50,000-computer attack. The system couldn’t handle the flood, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Levy compared to "water coming from a fire hose…"

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