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Brighton perv cops community service for 'hacking' women's Facebook accounts

Guilty plea to Computer Misuse Act crimes

A man who hacked women's Facebook accounts to steal their intimate images has been ordered to carry out 200 hours' unpaid work after admitting three criminal charges under the Computer Misuse Act.

The Worthing Herald reported that Kieren Kennedy, of Montpelier Place in Brighton, "caused a very significant level of distress" to three women in Worthing.

Prosecutor Francesca Baynham said: "[Kennedy] disclosed that he had obtained certain photographs of [women] and the nature of those photographs were of these women in a state of undress. He disclosed to his friend that he was able to obtain these images by accessing Facebook accounts."

His crimes were committed in January 2018, Worthing Magistrates' Court heard. Kennedy had no previous convictions.

He was sentenced on Friday to 200 hours' community service, ordered to pay £600 compensation and £85 in court costs, as well as being hit with an £85 victim surcharge tax. He is now the subject of a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) for the next five years and must attend the Horizon sex offenders' rehab programme.

A leaflet (PDF) published by the Prison Reform Trust gives more information on SHPOs and the Horizon programme.

Another day, another conviction

Although public reporting gives very few details of whatever "hacking" Kennedy carried out to access his victims' social media accounts, the use of the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) to prosecute him marks how the Act is increasingly being deployed by prosecutors.

Last year the Information Commissioner's Office used the CMA to convict a car repairman who illegally took customer details with him when he changed job. Also last year, a Santander bank manager pleaded guilty after being caught passing customers' details to her boyfriend for him to carry out financial frauds.

More recently, a London police worker was found guilty under the CMA of illegally monitoring an internal police investigation into his own misconduct – though he remained employed by the Metropolitan Police.

Prison is generally unlikely for someone convicted of a CMA offence, as a recent analysis by The Register showed.

NCC Group and other UK infosec companies have started a campaign to reform the CMA in order to draw a clearer line between black-hat hackers, be they like Kennedy above or like Talktalk hacker teen Elliott Gunton, and responsible information security practices by industry actors. ®

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