In the article entitled, “Computer expert accused of hacking government sites”, by Greg Krikorian, Victor Faur and his group of hackers, called the “WhiteHat Team”, have been charged with hacking into NASA computers - Assignment hackers introduction. Not only did he compile a list of usernames and passwords, but he downloaded information on to their system in order to make it available to the members of his group. His group would then use the system to chat with each other and, in general, thumb their noses at the government. Faur chose to hack into NASA because their computer system has a reputation of being very secure. It is, after all, a government entity as well as the pinnacle of scientific research. Faur’s hacking activities were a slap in the face, a means of flaunting his computer savvy in the faces of NASA scientists.
The investigation into Faur’s activities went on for an entire year, in which it was discovered that the illegal hacking cost NASA and the Navy and Energy department around $1.5 million. Both organizations lost more than just money; they lost valuable data that could take years to replicate, if ever. Not only is replication an issue; the information compiled by NASA is extremely sensitive and, as a result of Faur’s activities, is no longer private or secure. Faur was already under investigation in Romania for similar activities and faces up to 54 years in prison in the United States.
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While the article described Faur’s hand in hacking NASA’s system, the article failed to mention what happened to the rest of the group. Faur merely opened the floodgates for his friends; the rest of the group illegally entered the NASA computers. This article might have been more compelling if it had included a backdrop of other illegal hacking incidents as well as the resulting prison sentences.
The benefit of having computers in everyday life is that it is much easier to communicate with other people and to send large amounts of data. The downside, of course, is that the information isn’t always private. Hackers such as Faur can invade almost any system and compromise the data. The solution to this problem is threefold: new safeguards must be created in order to protect sensitive information, countries need to have agreements with each other in regard to punishment for hackers, and stronger sentences must be enforced.
Hackers who are convicted of crimes against the government should, as part of their punishment, be required to work with the government on creating stronger firewalls and other protections against hackers. The government needs to have an extensive and separate budget dedicated to securing their systems and keeping criminals like Faur from gaining access.
Faur is from Romania, and while the article did not describe where his crimes took place, every country should have an agreement that citizens who hack into government entities can be extradited without issue. Hackers who commit their crimes from non-extradition countries should not have the protection to compromise sensitive information.
The act of hacking is similar to breaking, entering and burglary; therefore, criminals should be prosecuted the same way. Not only should they receive stiff prison sentences and fines, but they should be required to perform community service by way of technology education and assisting the government (upon which they committed their crimes) in preventing future invasions.
In conclusion, Faur’s invasion of NASA and the Navy should be treated like any act of terrorism against a government. They compromised valuable data, which is a waste of the government’s money – and thus, the citizen’s money. Faur may have done it in order to prove a point that NASA’s system was not secure, but he could have done that by getting a job with them and working to keep other hackers out. Faur should receive the strongest sentence available and deported back to Romania once his sentence has been served.