Man gets probation, fine in Internet case

Monday, January 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) _ A man who discovered a security hole in a newspaper Web site and brought it to the attention of the publisher has been given three years probation and fined $1,000 over the incident.

Brian West, 24, of Stigler, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor federal charge of accessing a protected computer without authorization.

West admitted to downloading proprietary scripts and password files from the Poteau Daily News & Sun's Web site on Feb. 1, 2000.

West was portrayed on various Internet sites as a good Samaritan who was being improperly targeted by authorities, and U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling said he received hundreds of e-mails from people around the world concerned that he was pursuing the case.

Sperling said Monday he was pleased with the outcome of the case. West was sentenced Thursday.

``The investigation revealed the defendant was not only where he shouldn't have been but took what was not his,'' he said.

He said West's actions went beyond just discovering a security problem and alerting the newspaper.

West continued to probe the site after noticing the flaw, downloaded proprietary files and passwords, used the passwords to gain access to other parts of the newspaper's Web page and shared the files and passwords with another person, Sperling said.

West's attorney Cheri Chappell said she was satisfied with the outcome of the case, and that it ``pales by comparison'' with other Internet crime.

``I think there are much more serious computer crimes that are happening, costing corporate America millions if not billions of dollars,'' she said.

The FBI investigated the case. It searched West's office and seized backup data disks and tapes.

The Poteau Daily News & Sun is an 8,000-circulation newspaper.