A US hacker has dodged 440 years in prison for computer crime offences that amount to scanning sites with automatic tools and filling in web forms with junk data.
The charges, since reduced to a misdemeanor, could have seen Fidel Salinas, 28, spending his remaining days working off a 440-year sentence.
Salinas was alleged to have operated under the name and iconography of Anonymous, but pleaded guilty and will be fined US$10,000 for scanning the website of Hidalgo County website for vulnerabilities and running thousands of brute-force password guesses to gain access.
Prosecutors said the scans slowed the site's performance while the brute force attempts locked administrators out of the site.
The US Department of Justice said the Texan "ran a script from his computer on the administrative web site of Hidalgo County with the intent to gain unauthorized access" on 4 and 5 January 2012.
"During that time, he made more than 14,000 access attempts with wrong passwords," the document said.
"Those repeated failed attempts caused true site administrators to be locked out of the system.
The statement omitted that Salinas faced 10 years for each of the 44 felony counts of computer fraud.
These broke down into 18 separate submissions of junk data in a web form tantamount to 'cyber stalking'; 15 for separate website vulnerability scans using Acunetix and Webcruiser, and the remainder for the attacks against the Hidalgo county website. ®