An Australian teen who pled guilty to hacking Apple’s systems last month has been given eight months of probation, Bloomberg reports. The teenager, who was 16 at the time he began, and cannot be identified under Australian law due to his age, accessed Apple’s internal systems, copying data and authentication keys, claiming he was “fascinated by the tech giant” and found the process of hacking into Apple to be “addictive.” Apple’s internal security teams discovered the intrusions back in late 2016, blocking them and subsequently reporting the case to the FBI and Australian authorities, who raided his home and laid charges after finding the equipment used to perform the hacking, which took place over two periods between June 2015 and November 2016, and then again in April 2017. The magistrate presiding over the case told the teenager that the hacking was a serious offence, describing it as “sustained, sophisticated, and a successful attack on the security of a major multinational corporation.” However, the teen pled guilty to two charges, and no conviction was recorded against him. One of the charges, related to “unauthorized and reckless modification of data,” carries a maximum sentence for adults of 10 years in jail, while the second charge of unauthorized access of data has a maximum penalty of two years in jail.
The teen reportedly exploited a virtual private tunnel (VPN) that was set up to allow authorized users to connect remotely into Apple’sinternal systems, and over the course of his access, managed to download a terabyte of secure files that prosecutors say was “sensitive both from a privacy and commercial point of view.” However, Apple stated that no personal data was compromised in the intrusion, and that it’s internal teams had discovered the unauthorized access, contained it, and reported it to law enforcement. Apple originally detected the intrusion and blocked it in November 2016, however the teen succeeded in briefly regaining access last year. A search of the teen’s home recorded two Apple MacBooks that contained a folder labelled, “Hacky Hack Hack Methods Exclude,” including details on how to infiltrate and bypass Apple’s security. An ongoing investigation is also still underway that may result in other charges being laid, prosecutors say, with evidence against a second teenager already having been submitted to the office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.