Looking at Ten

A San Diego man has been charged with hacking into the University of Southern California's (USC) online application system and stealing student data.

On Monday, the US Attorney's Office in Los Angeles filed a criminal complaint against Eric McCarty, a network administrator, for allegedly exploiting vulnerability in a USC database that hosts student applications. He is charged with "intentionally transmitting a code or command to cause damage to the USC online application system", according to the State Attorney's office.

McCarty allegedly used his home computer in June of last year to hack into a password-protected USC database. It contained data on more than 275,000 applicants from 1997 through that time, including Social Security numbers and birthdates.

After being warned by Security Focus magazine USC shut down the website on 21 June and the FBI, which investigated the breach traced McCarty through the IP number of his home computer.

McCarty faces a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted of computer hacking.