A hacker who accessed confidential employee information from Apple and shared it on Twitter has escaped a jail sentence.
Abe Crannaford, 24, appeared in Eden Local Court on Wednesday, June 3, for sentencing after pleading guilty in February to two counts of unauthorised access or modification of restricted data.
In mid-2017 and early 2018, Crannaford extracted restricted information meant for employees only from the large US-based corporation.
The hacking culminated in January 2018 when Crannaford published employee details on his Twitter account and allegedly provided links to the corporation's firmware on GitHub.
Crannaford was living at Moruya Heads at the time of his offences although he now lists his address as Noorinbee in Victoria.
He appeared in court wearing a grey polo shirt and jeans, his long hair and beard similar to that of his father sitting beside him quietly listening to proceedings.
After hearing final submissions from both the defence and Commonwealth prosecutor - who was in court via speakerphone due to COVID-19 distancing measures - Magistrate Doug Dick convicted Crannaford, but did not impose a sentence.
He outlined the potential maximum sentence for such offences was two years' imprisonment and fines of $10,000-plus for each matter.
Instead Crannaford was fined $5000 and given an 18-month "recognisance", in which he has to pledge $5000 that is forfeited if he breaches a good behaviour bond over that time.
"It may well be that there was no sinister intentions [with the illegal access of data]," Magistrate Dick said.
"But the bottom line is you knew it was wrong.
"It's pleasing to see you've made changes to you life and it's clear from the submissions that it has weighed heavily on your mind, which is punishment in itself.
"It may well be you're now subjected to online ridicule and contempt, but no-one in this court room escapes that - not even me," Magistrate Dick said.
"What you did strikes at the heart of modern society - people rightly worry about their privacy."
Earlier, defence solicitor Ines Chiumento said this was not a run-of-the-mill matter, and companies like Apple were known to target young people with "above average" talent in the tech space.
"Apple does promote in some sense the ability to delve into a computer and find a bug or a glitch - and then knowing about it helps the company improve its product," Ms Chiumento said.
"With that ability being treasured and sought out, it's difficult to send a message to young people [about the illegality and punitive measures] if the companies don't send the same message."
The Commonwealth prosecutor acknowledged such "bounties" existed, but said Crannaford's "intrusions into websites and restricted data" occurred on multiple occasions and were shared with others, "so the concept of a bounty is contrary to his actions".
"In the beginning I can believe you may have been enticed by a 'bounty', but these charges relate to later matters," Magistrate Dick said.
During the sentencing proceedings, the prosecution confirmed that police had no objection to returning Crannaford's computer equipment on the conclusion of this court process - although they would be "forensically wiped".
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