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A so-called 'ethical hacker' from California who had been a computer crimes consultant with the FBI appeared in federal court last week to face fifteen counts of computer trespass. Max Ray Butler, who once worked as an FBI source in computer crime, offers network penetration testing to clients interested in learning how a malicious hacker might break into their systems. A useful and essential service to be sure, but Butler, apparently, took it a bit too far. He has been charged with breaking into systems at NASA, the US Departments of Energy, Defence and Transportation, and the University of California at Berkeley. In an indictment handed down 15 March, Butler is accused of causing 'reckless damage' during unauthorised intrusions carried out in May of 1998. Butler was also charged with possession of 477 passwords belonging to customers of California ISP Aimnet. He was released after posting US $50,000 in cash bail. US Magistrate Patricia Turnbull ordered him not to use computers except for work while awaiting trial. Butler faces fines ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 and jail terms totalling more than 50 years in prison if convicted on all counts, the US Attorney's office in San Francisco said. ®

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