A judge in Georgia has scolded a controversial security figure for improperly subpoenaing Yahoo! and Twitter in an attempt to get user names and passwords belonging to some 25 researchers.
Gregory D. Evans, CEO of Ligatt Security and the self-proclaimed "World's No. 1 Hacker", sought the the highly personal information in a lawsuit he brought last year accusing the researchers of bashing his company's penny stock. Over the past year, shares have fallen from about $2.80 to $0.0004, public information shows. Most of that precipitous drop happened prior to claims that surfaced in June that huge chunks of an e-book purportedly written by Evans were lifted from other hacking manuals without the original authors' permission.
The suit named Chris John Riley, Ben Rothke, and other security professionals who publicly claimed their works were plagiarized. Shortly after it was filed, attorneys for Evans subpoenaed Yahoo! and Twitter for information that included the defendants' usernames, passwords, emails sent and received, and blog postings. Last week, the judge hearing the case squashed the subpoenas and said they violated several provisions of Georgia law.
“The court finds it extremely troubling that plaintiffs issued and served subpoenas to which plaintiffs' counsel had no access for such a long period of time,” Karen E. Beyers, superior court judge for Georgia's Gwinnett County wrote. Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, she said, Randolph Morris and the 24 other people named in the suit were entitled to copies.
She also uncovered other legal deficiencies, including their inclusion of the wrong case number and failure to notify plaintiffs that two subpoenas had been filed rather than just one. What's more, Beyers said the subpoenas were “overbroad” because they sought passwords and emails.
“This is exceedingly overbroad, and is also wholly inconsistent with the representations of plaintiffs' counsel regarding the scope of the subpoenas,” she wrote.
Beyers went on to dismiss Morris from the lawsuit because she found the California resident had no ties to Georgia. She scheduled a hearing for March 1 to decide how much Evans should pay in sanctions for the improper subpoenas.
Shortly after filing his lawsuit in July, Evans cast himself as the aggrieved party.
“We are sure that once this total investigation is over we will find that not only were these people bashers, but they were also day traders and market makers,” Evans was quoted in a press release. “We are prepared to go after them due to the fact that they took part in manipulating the stock,” says Evans.
Evans has regularly appeared as a security expert on Fox News, Bloomberg TV, and CNN. ®