A 16-year-old boy was so fascinated with his favorite technology company that he hacked his way into Apple’s servers, stealing 90 gigabytes worth of files and accessing customer accounts as well.
The Children’s Court in Melbourne, Austrailia, heard the case Thursday, in which the teen pleaded guilty. The teen’s name is being withheld by the court.
His defense lawyer said the teen was so well known in the hacking community that sharing details of the case could put him at risk.
The teen said he “dreamed of” working for Apple, and decided to hack his way into their servers, something he did for about a year.
The boy’s hacking exploits came to an end last year when the Australian Federal Police executed a search warrant on his home, The Age reported.
While the attacker tried to hide his identity, Apple was able to identify the serial numbers of the laptops used to perform the attacks, and that’s how the investigation led to Australia, according to the New York Post.
Police also found a trove of hacking files and instructions in a folder titled “hacky hack hack.”
Apple trumpeted its role in eventually finding the hacker.
“At Apple, we vigilantly protect our networks and have dedicated teams of information security professionals that work to detect and respond to threats,” the company said in a statement, according to The Guardian.
“In this case, our teams discovered the unauthorized access, contained it, and reported the incident to law enforcement,” the statement said.
However, the teen also helped get himself caught by bragging about what he had done on WhatsApp, police said.
Apple insisted that despite what was said in court, no personal accounts were compromised.
“We … want to assure our customers that at no point during this incident was their personal data compromised,” its statement said.
Suelette Dreyfus, a privacy expert from the University of Melbourne, is urging that the teen be treated with leniency, saying kids push limits online just as they do everywhere else.
“I have researched a number of teen hacker cases internationally,” Dreyfus said.
“Almost all these teens grew out of the technology boundary-pushing of their youth, and then went on to live useful lives and contributing to society. Putting them in prison is often a waste of that potential,” she said.
“Young people often make mistakes when they are exploring and rule-breaking especially online — including boasting about their exploits. It’s not right, but for tech teens, it can be a part of growing up … there’s usually a really worried teen and family at the end of this sort of court case,” Dreyfus concluded.
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