Cable Modem Hacker Gets Three-Year Prison Sentence

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Ryan Harris, who was convicted in March of helping cable modem users steal Internet access using hacked cable modems and software, has been sentenced to three years in prison.

"Harris sold 'rooted' cable modems that could be used by buyers to obtain free internet service or bypass subscriber limits," writes Wired's Kim Zetter. "Uncapped cable modems remove bandwidth filters imposed by cable ISPs, which can increase the speed of the modem and defeat any throttling or content filtering an ISP may try to do. Harris sold the modems through his company, TCNiSO, for up to $100, and provided other tools and information to help users modify their cable modems.'"

"Harris was not a discreet criminal -- he authored and sold a book entitled 'Hacking the Cable Modem: What Cable Companies Don’t Want You to Know," write The Verge's Evan Rodgers. "In it he describes ways of bypassing cable companys' provisioning systems and methods for spoofing the information of legitimate cable modems. While describing these techniques is legal, selling software and hardware with the sole purpose of enabling theft is not. His defense? He claimed that the goods he sold themselves were completely legal, and that he could not be held responsible for the actions of his customers."

"'I think you committed a very serious crime,' US District Judge Mark L. Wolf told Ryan Harris, 28, in federal court in Boston," write The Boston Globe's Travis Andersen and Milton J. Valencia. "Wolf said he hopes other hackers get the message that cybercrime has consequences, after the prosecution by the US attorney’s office in Boston. Harris earned between $400,000 and $1 million over several years from the sale of products that allowed users to pirate Internet access from cable companies by cloning modem addresses, authorities said."