Man jailed for data theft manages to hack prison computers

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A hacker has managed to put his criminal talents to use even in prison.

The government has been left red-faced after it was revealed that a man jailed for committing data protection offences was able to hack into the computers at his prison.

Nicholas Webber, 21, was the mastermind of the GhostMarket.net cybercrime forum which was used to steal and trade Britons’ credit card details.

He was caught only after trying to use a stolen card to pay for a stay in a luxury hotel and when his crime spree was uncovered, he was sentenced to five years in prison, starting in May 2011.

However, despite his criminal credentials, he was allowed to join an IT class while behind bars – and he wasted no time in hacking into HM Prison Isis’s computer system.

The tutor has been blamed for the error and sacked, but he is now taking on the prison in an unfair dismissal case to prove he did not know Mr Webber was in prison for IT fraud.

A spokesperson for the prison told The Register: "No access to personal information or wider access to the internet or other prison systems would have been possible."

It is not clear what Mr Webber did manage to get into during his hacking session, but it proves that data protection may not be an important enough concern at various government institutions.

This comes at a time when malicious attacks on IT systems are becoming ever more commonplace.

Indeed, recent data from KPMG’s Data Loss Barometer showed that 160 million people were affected by external data leaks during 2012, an increase of 40 per cent. Hacking accounted for 67 per cent of the data lost.

"What we are witnessing is a shift from the accidental loss of data to deliberate theft – either to steal or re-sell that data or sometimes simply for sport or to make a great headline," warned KPMG’s Malcolm Marshall.

Outsourcing services such as document management and storage to a third-party can really help to increase security – firms such as Dajon specialise in keeping your data secure, leaving your IT staff free to do their jobs.

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