Security researchers at Sophos have charged BBC over violation of laws after the Corporation has admitted to hacking as many as 22,000 PCs without the users’ consent, and the hacked computers were subsequently converted into botnets.
The whole episode is a part of the Corporation’s awareness programme, which featured in television tech series “BBC Click”, to help users comprehend that how easy it was to purchase botnet PCs in order to launch malicious attacks to seize control over users’ PCs remotely.
The programme further showed how these zombie machines could be employed in launching spamming attacks to two specially designed, Gmail and Hotmail accounts, along with the simulation denial-of-service attack in conjunction with the security company PrevX.
Though the BBC claimed that the programme didn’t have any criminal intent at all, Sophos asserted that the program had anyhow violated the Computers Misuse Act, and hence should be considered as an offending action.
In addition, Struan Robertson of legal organisation, Out-law.com. claimed that the purchase of botnets was illicit, regardless of the good intentions.
Citing the gravity of the issue, the lawyer went on to say, “It does not matter that the emails were sent to the BBC’s own accounts and criminal intent is not necessary to establish an offence of unauthorised access to a computer”.
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The BBC has played with fire by renting and literally setting free thousands of Zombie PCs. Both Sophos and Out-law are right when they highlight the relative naivety of the corporation which is not, in any case, above the law. And there's a Damocles sword hanging on BBC's as owners of the Zombie computers could potentially sue the corporation.
(The Sydney Morning Herald)