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HP-funded hacking included reporters' data
Published: 2006-09-08

Investigators hired by Hewlett-Packard to find a media leak used sensitive information to access phone-company computers and get the calling records of nine reporters without authorization, media reports said on Thursday.

The revelations came a day after complaints by a former member of HP's board of directors forced the company to file a statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), acknowledging that investigators hired by the board had fraudulently accessed the private telephone records of boardmembers and reporters. The private investigators fraudulently used the identities of the victims to get the necessary login credentials to access online telephone records without authorization, according to media reports.

The names of five reporters affected by the data theft have so far been released in articles: Dawn Kawamoto and Tom Krazit of CNET, John Markoff of the New York Times, and Pui-Wing Tam and George Anders of the Wall Street Journal.

Under Title 18 Section 1030(a)(4), whoever:

knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization, or exceeds authorized access, and by means of such conduct furthers the intended fraud and obtains anything of value, unless the object of the fraud and the thing obtained consists only of the use of the computer and the value of such use is not more than $5,000 in any 1-year period
could be charged with a felony. Prosecutors frequently call violations of Section 1030, "computer hacking."

HP has maintained that the investigators had represented their investigative methods as legal.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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