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Facebook hacker jailed for eight months

In the "most extensive and grave" social media hacking case ever in a British court, a hacker has been sentenced to eight months in prison.

A student from York who hacked into Facebook has been sentenced to eight months in prison, in what was described as "the most extensive and grave incident of social media hacking to be brought before the British courts".

US authorities thought the social networking site was the target of industrial espionage last year, but in actual fact it was 26-year-old Glenn Mangham hacking it. He did so from his bedroom in his parents' house, The Guardian reports.

Mangham claimed he wanted to show Facebook how it could improve its security, as he claimed to have done for Yahoo. But prosecutor Sandip Patel wasn't buying it, telling the court: "He acted with determination and undoubted ingenuity and it was sophisticated, it was calculating. This represents the most extensive and grave incident of social media hacking to be brought before the British courts."

He said Mangham, a software development student, stole invaluable intellectual property between April and May last year. Mangham was raided by Scotland Yard's e-crime unit on 2 June last year.

Mangham's defence lawyer, Tony Ventham, described him as an "ethical hacker". He said: "It was common currency within the community of computer nerds or geeks, if I may refer to him as that, where there was this interesting relationship between companies and people who ethically point out vulnerabilities."

The judge took into consideration Mangham's youth, the fact he had never been in trouble before, as well as his strong indications of Asperger's syndrome.

He acknowledged Mangham didn't intend to pass on information gleaned from the hack, or make any money from it. "But this was not just a bit of harmless experimentation," he said. "You accessed the very heart of the system of an international business of massive size, so this was not just fiddling about in the business records of some tiny business of no great importance."

Mangham also had his access to the Internet restricted and his computer confiscated under a serious crime prevention order.

Should the size of the company have a bearing on the sentence? Is there such a thing as an ethical hacker? And is it fair to restrict someone's access to the Internet? Let me know what you think about it over on Facebook, or below in the comments.