Computer hacker Daniel Woo sentenced to jail in London, England

A ruthless hacker who posed as a student in order to unlawfully gain access to the emails of hundreds of unsuspecting "fellow students" has been given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay over £20,000 in costs and compensation.

Daniel Woo, aged 23 yrs, a Bulgarian national of Hans Crescent, SW1 was sentenced on Wednesday, 24 November at Southwark Crown Court as follows for offences under the Misuse of Computers Act:

36 weeks imprisonment (suspended for two years);

a two year supervision order;

200 hours unpaid work;

£21,000 to be paid in costs and compensation.

He is also banned from entering any university, college or place of higher education without the consent of police for 12 months.

Woo was arrested on 1 November 2006 at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies in Thornhaugh Street WC1, after being caught in the act of installing password-capturing software. He was spotted by IT staff who were investigating recent anomalies in the running of the computer network.

Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Police Central e-Crime Unit established that Woo had falsely claimed to be a student in order to gain access to a computer room on the campus.

Once in, he used various hacking techniques to break a number of students’ passwords, thereby gaining access to their accounts. He then placed computer software known as "Cain and Able" on a number of machines, which in turn enabled him to collect further student passwords and to covertly gather traffic passing through the university’s computer network.

In order to crack passwords, place the necessary software on the system and upload the unlawfully obtained data, Woo visited the student computer room on at least ten occasions in October and November 2006.

In this way he was able to gain access to hundreds of private emails containing personal identification and financial information. It was subsequently established that fraud had taken place on a number of the compromised payment accounts.

Woo was taken into custody at Holborn police station and in interview claimed to have no recollection of having been in the computer room.

Following extensive enquiries – which included the detailed forensic examination of Woo’s computers, CDs, discs, and mobile phones, as well as CCTV footage and eyewitness accounts – officers were able to link Woo to further offences of the same nature at the University of Coventry and established that he had stolen an ID card from a student who attended the University of Northampton.

Woo was charged on 28 May 2009 and subsequently pleaded guilty to all offences on 20 August 2010.

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