• Should the BBC be Prosecuted for Hacking Offences?

    Posted on March 15, 2009 by Lee Whitfield in News.

    I occasionally watch a TV show on the BBC by the name of ‘Click’.  This series looks at the latest technology news and also does some investigations into the darker side of the internet.  I was watching the most recent episode in which the host and his guest bought a botnet consisting of over 20,000 ‘bots’.  These bots are compromised computers from around the world that act as part of a remote-control network.

    Theses two individuals first set up several dummy email accounts, including Windows Live and Gmail accounts, and used the botnet to send spam to these email addresses.

    Next they set up a web server and used the botnet to launch a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack on that server.

    Finally they changed the background wallpaper of each of the infected computers to a message stating that they were infected.  They then removed the bots from these computers.

    I have a few problems with this.

    1. I pay a TV license fee, most of which goes to the BBC.  The fact that the BBC use this to buy a botnet from an unknown man disgusts me.  My license fee money has been spent in funding cyber-terrorism and who knows what else.
    2. According to the Computer Misuse Act 1990 the BBC have gained unauthorised access to each of these computers.  This is a criminal offence in this country.
    3. Not only have the BBC gained unauthorised access to these computers but they have gone on to use these computers to send spam.  Although the email addresses were set up by the BBC the accounts were hosted by major service providers.  I’m sure that Google and Microsoft wouldn’t be impressed by that, and neither would the users of the compromised computers.
    4. I do not know the exact locations of these bots so this can only be considered conjecture, but if these bots are located in other countries the BBC have likely broken their laws too.
    5. By altering data on the compromised computers, regardless of their intentions, they are treading on dodgy ground. This could be interpreted as a worse offence than that mentioned in point 2 dependant on their perceived intent.

    No investigation or notice of intended prosecution has been announced and no apology given by the BBC. Can someone please explain to me why?

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2 Responsesso far.

  1. Simon says:

    Maybe the BBC did not actually do anything and they faked it all.

    It would not have been that difficult.

    If they did do what they showed they should be fined the licecne fee and prosecuted its a complete joke.

  2. Tim says:

    Either they faked it which is absolutely against the BBC charter and they should be fined by Ofcom, or it’s real and they broke the law. I agree with Lee, this kind of program is interesting and doing an experiment with a bunch of machines in lab would be fine but to spend our license fee on an actual botnet with real compromised machines in the wild is outrageous. Plus, like you say, who know what that money has gone towards. At best, some rich mastercriminal has bought another mansion in Spain, at worst it could be funding terrorism.

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