York hacker: Only my ethics stood between Facebook and potential annihilation

Glenn Mangham

Glenn Mangham

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , jennifer.bell@thepress.co.uk

A STUDENT who hacked into Facebook from his York bedroom has defended his actions in a tell-all blog – and claimed he saved the website from “potential annihilation”.

Software development student Glenn Mangham, 26, was freed earlier this month after appeal judges halved the eight-month prison sentence he was given for infiltrating and nearly bringing down the multi-million-dollar site.

In a lengthy online statement published today, Mr Mangham defended his actions and denied he was malicious but said he felt lucky not to have been extradited.

Mr Mangham , of Cornlands Road in Acomb, wrote: “When you consider the only thing that stood between Facebook and potential annihilation were my ethics, I think the fact it’s still in good working order should serve as some proof that I’m not really one of the bad guys.”

He said he was relieved his ordeal was over and that he could finally get on with his life. He said: “Despite all my moaning I suppose that in many respects I have been very lucky. I could have been subjected to the same kind of treatment as Gary McKinnon, Richard O’Dwyer and Christoper Tappin [all of whom were extradited].

“In this country It seems that whenever the Emperors of New Rome summon one of us, we lowly plebeians must obey the command. The lopsided extradition treaty is doing a marvellous job at ensuring British citizens are whisked off to cloud cuckoo land to be buried in some desert for a few years. I thank my lucky stars that I somehow avoided that fate, despite being such an obvious candidate for it.”

Mr Mangham was jailed after admitting three counts of unauthorised access to computer material and unauthorised modification of computer data, but three Court of Appeal judges subsequently halved his sentence, which allowed him to be tagged and released from prison. He published his statement today on a blog entitled “Ebor Hack’em: The Facebook Hack – What Really Happened”.

He referred to a statement by a senior Facebook official, objecting to descriptions of Mangham as an “ethical” hacker. Such operatives find weaknesses in company’s online security in order that loopholes can be closed.

Mr Mangham insisted again yesterday that he was not malicious in his actions. He apologised for allowing the situation to “escalate into a full-blown investigation”, saying he accepted “full responsibility” and admitted he “made a bit of a mess out of the project”.

But he added: “I think the punishment given was a bit heavy-handed, even with the reduction gained on appeal. I had my life put on hold while I was on bail for several months and had my intellectual property, which entailed hundreds of hours’ worth of work, destroyed when a destruction order was made against my equipment. Even though these measures may not be intended as punishments, they certainly felt like one.

“To add a custodial sentence on top of this felt a bit excessive to me. I suppose it depends on your ethics, but mine are to do no harm to the innocent, at least not deliberately. When you consider the only thing that stood between Facebook and potential annihilation were my ethics, I think the fact it’s still in good working order should serve as some proof that I’m not really one of the bad guys.”

The appeal judges halved the sentence when they ruled he had not passed on the information he obtained and had not planned to make money out of his hacking, which took place in 2007. The original case was the biggest such one to come before a British court. Mr Mangham said Facebook had acknowledged he did not damage their operation and said its claim his actions had cost it $200,000 had left him “incredulous”.

Mr Mangham's full statement can be seen at http://gmangham.blogspot.co.uk/

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