Facebook hacker is jailed for eight months

Landmark sentence for 'nerd' who downloaded data and was caught by FBI and Met investigation

A “computer nerd” who sparked fears of industrial espionage in the US when he hacked into Facebook from his bedroom in York has been jailed for eight months.

Glenn Mangham, 26, carried out a calculated attack on the social network site and his hacking was so comprehensive it could have destroyed the website, a court heard.

The hacking was described by the prosecution as "the most extensive and grave incident of social media hacking" yet brought before a British court. His arrest followed a joint operation involving police, Crown Prosecution Service, the FBI and US Justice Department.

Mangham did his best to delete his electronic "footprints" but, after a £126,000 investigation by Facebook, his identity was discovered.

Judge Alistair McCreath, passing sentence at Southwark Crown Court in London yesterday, acknowledged the software development student never intended to pass the information he downloaded to anyone else, nor make any money out of it.

But jailing Mangham, the judge said: "You and others who are tempted to act as you did really must understand how serious this is. You accessed the very heart of the system of an international business of massive size."

Sandip Patel, prosecuting, described the hacking attack as malicious. He said: "He acted with determination, undoubted ingenuity and it was sophisticated. It was calculating."

Mangham said he hacked into Facebook as part of a project, so that he could compile a report and pass it to the company to highlight the weaknesses of its defences. "I had performed the same routine with Yahoo," he said. Tony Ventham, for the defence, described Mangham as an "ethical hacker". Mangham admitted computer misuse offences.

A spokesman for Facebook said: "We applaud the efforts of the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service in this case, which did not involve any compromise of personal user data."