Teen hacker billed for £21,000 damage

Friday, 19 December 2003, 4:31 PM EST

An 18-year old student from Woodford Green has been told he's liable for £21,000 damages and five years in prison after he hacked into a government laboratory, claiming he was just trying to download music files.

The hack took place in June last year, when Exeter University student Joseph McElroy, 18, created a programme to enable him to remotely access computers at the Fermi Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.

McElroy hacked the laboratory's system 17 times and told friends how to do the same. The hack triggered a security alert at the particle research lab, which shut down its computer system for three days as a result.

The US department of Energy told Scotland Yard of the attack, who then traced McElroy.

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