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Intel 'hacker' clears his name

12 year fight ends in victory for 'white hat' password cracker

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A former Intel contractor has succeeded in crushing charges that he hacked into the chip giant's systems after a legal fight that lasted over a decade.

The conviction against Randal L. Schwartz was "set aside" at the beginning of February by an Oregon court, clearing his name after 12 years.

Schwartz had worked as a security consultant at the Intel Supercomputer Systems Division but left under something of a cloud, News.com reports.

Rather ill-advisedly, the Perl-programming guru (who's written several books on the subject) tried to prove his worth by running a password cracking package after he'd left in order to produce evidence that security practices had deteriorated since his departure. Instead of re-hiring Schwartz, as he hoped, Intel called in the police and he was charged with hacking offences.

Schwartz was convicted of three counts of computer hacking in late 1995, sentenced to five years probation, and a 480 hour community service order. He was also ordered to pay Intel a fine of $68,000, as well as being obliged to stump up $170,000 in defence costs. Following an appeal, the restitution order was dropped in 2001 but the court declined to quash the conviction, which it sent back to the lower court to be re-examined.

The lower court agreed to expunge this conviction last month (PDF) in a legal move that means Schwartz is no longer saddled with a criminal record, a status that's affected his ability to travel or work normally for more than a decade.

More background on the case can be found on the Friends of Randal Schwartz website. ®

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