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Teenager cleared of major hacking attack

Computer Weekly reporter
A teenager has been cleared of trying to bring one of the US's biggest ports to a standstill by hacking into its computer systems.

Aaron Caffrey was charged with unauthorised modification of computer material under the Computer Misuse Act following a cyber attack on the port of Houston. He admitted being part of a group of hackers called Allied Haxor Elite, but denied he had ever illegally hacked into a computer.

He told police that hackers had broken into his PC and used a Trojan programme to launch the attack and plant incriminating evidence.

During the trial police and IT security professionals expressed concern that language used in the 1990 Act, which was introduced to deal with hackers who unlawfully modify data on a computer, does not criminalise denial-of-service attacks.

Police had been seeking a test case to clarify the law and set a precedent. The Home Office is likely to reconsider the Act in the wake of the Caffrey verdict.

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