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2004-11-07 20:54:38

Another Computer Hacker Gets Prison Term in US

The Bahamas needs to catch up in terms of enforcing Internet security laws.

Daniel Baas' computer skills were expert enough that he was able to make a living using them. But, he admitted Monday, he used those same skills to penetrate the computers and networks of lawyers and companies. For that, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Dennis Helmick sentenced him to 2˝ years in prison.

"In essence, he was hacking into their systems," assistant prosecutor Andrew Berghausen told Helmick after Baas accepted a deal to plead guilty to unauthorized use of property.

Baas, 25, hacked into personal computers and networks to view legal documents, financial data -- even pictures, including honeymoon photos from one couple.

"He was then copying (that information) for his own use," Berghausen said.

Hamilton County sheriff's deputies, led by Detective Rick Sweeney, found that information when they raided Baas' Milford home in connection with an investigation of a charge that he hacked into one of the world's largest consumer database companies. He's been convicted in federal court of that crime and will be sentenced Nov. 3.

Baas pleaded guilty Monday to hacking into computers or networks of attorneys Gary Lewis and John Brinker, and two companies -- Court Street Title Agency and JSR American.

In exchange for Baas' guilty plea, Berghausen agreed to drop two similar charges against him.

Helmick told Baas he would reject any attempt to get out of prison early, and didn't credit him for the year he's already spent in jail.

"I intended to cause no harm," Baas told the judge.

But Helmick noted that Baas -- known as "Epitaph" when he was on-line -- had committed serious crimes.

"This is not just a lark on your behalf thinking that you're a little more intelligent than those who created the software," Helmick told him. "If you had personal information on your computer and I hacked into it, you'd be pretty (upset), wouldn't you?"

Among the evidence that police seized from Baas were chat logs -- or computer conversations -- he had with Jesse Tuttle, who is accused of illegally hacking into the Web sites of Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. and the main Hamilton County government site. Police said they also found 10 images of kiddie porn on Tuttle's computer.

Tuttle has insisted that he is working for the FBI looking for on-line perverts and possible terrorists.

Baas faces up to a five-year sentence Nov. 3 when he's sentenced in federal court for hacking into and stealing data from Acxiom, one of the world's largest credit card data base users.

That company provides services to 14 of the 15 top credit cards companies, five of the six biggest retail banks and seven of the top 10 car makers. All share the credit card and other information of their customers with Acxiom.

In that case, Baas admitted his actions cost Acxiom, of Little Rock, Ark., about $6 million, including $1.3 million for security audits and encryptions upgrades for Acxiom's computer system.

Baas was able to access Acxiom's network because he was an employee of Market Intelligence Group, a downtown Cincinnati company that was a customer of Acxiom.  

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