New laws make hacking a black-and-white choice

Tuesday, 24 September 2002, 1:12 AM EST

This summer, the consultant with security firm Secure Network Operations had let HP know of nearly 20 holes in its Tru64 operating system. But in late July, when HP was finishing work to patch the flaws, another employee of Finisterre's company publicly disclosed one of the vulnerabilities and showed how to exploit it--prompting the technology giant to threaten litigation under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Finisterre, who was not hired by HP, now says he'll think twice before voluntarily informing another company of any security holes he finds.

"As more laws come out, you are going to have to make a decision on which side of the fine line you want to be--black hat or white hat," the 22-year-old consultant said.

In recent months, hackers of all backgrounds have been forced to rethink their practices while facing a roundhouse combination of the DMCA, heightened law enforcement activity and deeper scrutiny by employers.

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