In February 2003, a Texas jury acquitted a computer security analyst by the name of Stefan Puffer, who in March 2002 was accused of wrongfully accessing the Harris County wireless computer network. Stefan Puffer not only discovered the vulnerability in the network but also reported it to the Harris County district clerk’s office, telling those in the office that anyone with a wireless network card could gain access to their sensitive computer information. In fact, Puffer gave authorities a face-to-face demonstration of the vulnerability.
Instead of receiving thanks from the Harris County officials for his warning, Puffer was indicted on fraud charges. Though he could have received five years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for each offense, the jurors hearing the case found after just 15 minutes of deliberation that Mr. Puffer did not intend to cause any damage to the county’s systems. He was therefore found not guilty of the charges.
2600: The Hacker Quarterly. Man Who Exposed County’s Wireless Insecurity Found Innocent. [Online, February 21, 2003.] 2600: The Hacker Quarterly Website. http://www.2600.com/news/view/article/1546.