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TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: hackers3.txt

Who's fault Was it Really




                           
                      HACKERS' OFF HOOK, PROPERTY RETURNED
                              By Danna Dykstra Coy

This article appeared in the Telegram-Tribune Newspaper, San Luis Obispo, CA.  
April 12, 1991. Permission to electronically reproduce this article was given 
by the newspaper's senior editor.  

                                     ***** 

Two San Luis Obispo men suspected of computer tampering will not be charged 
with any crime.  They will get back the computer equipment that was seized 
from their homes, according to Stephen Brown, a deputy district attorney who 
handled the case.  "It appears to have been a case of inadvertent access to a 
modem with no criminal intent," said Brown.  San Luis Obispo police were 
waiting on Brown's response to decide whether to pursue an investigation that 
started last month.  They said they would drop the matter if Brown didn't file 
a case.  

The officer heading the case, Gary Nemeth, admitted police were learning as 
they went along because they rarely deal with computer crimes.  Brown said he 
dosen't believe police overreacted in their investigation.  "They had a 
legitimate concern." 

In early March two dermatologists called police when the computer system 
containing patient billing records in their San Luis Obispo office kept 
shutting down.  They paid a computer technician about $1,500 to re-program 
their modem, a device that allows computers to communicate through the 
telephone lines.  The technician told the doctors it appeared someone was 
trying to tap into their system.  The computer's security system caused the 
shutdown after several attempts to gain access failed.  

Police ordered a 10-day phone tap on the modem's line and, after obtaining 
search warrants, searched four residences where calls were made to the skin 
doctors' modem at least three times.  One suspect, Ron Hopson, said last week 
his calls were legitimate and claimed police overreacted when they seized his 
computer, telephone, and computer manuals.  Hopson could not reached Thursday 
for comment.  

Brown's investigation revealed Hopson, like the other suspects, was trying to 
log-on to a computerized "bulletin-board" that incorrectly gave the doctors' 
number as the key to a system called "Cygnus XI".  Cygnus XI enabled computer 
users to electronically send messages to one another.  Brown said while this 
may not be the county's first computer crime, it was the first time the 
District Attorney's Office authorized search warrants in a case of suspected 
computer fraud using telephone lines.  Police will not be returning several 
illegally obtained copies of software also seized during the raids, he said.  


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