Feeds

Hacker charged in $1m cable ISP customer cloning scheme

MAC spoofing biz flourished for six years

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Federal prosecutors have charged a California man with earning $1m over a six-year period by illegally selling products that allowed customers to get high-speed internet service for free.

Ryan Harris, 26, of San Diego sold software and hardware that were designed to fool Charter Communications and other internet service providers into believing the gear belonged to paying customers, the prosecutors allege. Harris and his employees also offered technical support in publicly available chat forums at tcniso.net, the website belonging to their modem-hacking business.

The hack worked by spoofing the media access control address that acts as an electronic serial number for each modem. By replacing the unique address with one known to belong to a paying subscriber, Harris's customers were able to obtain internet service for free. Over time, his company offered additional services. One allowed users to increase their bandwidth while another made it possible to detect the MAC addresses of legitimate paying ISP subscribers.

From 2003 to earlier this year, TCNISO, as Harris's company was called, generated revenue of more than $1m, according to documents filed in US District Court in Boston.

In addition to allowing customers to obtain internet service without paying for it, TCNISO allowed users to surf anonymously. Among those taking advantage of that benefit was a juvenile hacker who went by the moniker Dshocker. Last year, he admitted to carrying out crippling denial-of-service attacks on online rivals and placing hoax emergency phone calls that prompted them to receive visits by heavily armed police teams. The Massachusetts youth was sentenced to 11 months detention.

According to a 14-page indictment unsealed Monday, Harris took few pains to keep his illegal business secret. In addition to hosting online forums and selling a book online titled "Hacking the Cable Modem," he also authored a posting on his website asking for any "verified MAC addresses and/or config files" for users major metropolitan areas. The post promised "rewards will follow" for those who replied.

In all, Harris was indicted on six felony counts, including conspiracy, computer intrusion and wire fraud. If convicted on them all, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, 1.5 million in fines and an order to pay restitution. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.