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Dating site hacker avoids jail

Dating site hacker avoids jail
Dating site hacker avoids jail 

By John Leyden
8th November 2006

A Nottinghamshire man who attacked the website of London dating agency has avoided imprisonment.

Matthew Byrne, 38, from Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, was given a 
suspended sentence of eight months imprisonment, suspended for two 
years, at a sentencing hearing at London's Southwark Crown Court on 
Tuesday. He was also sentenced to two years supervision order after 
pleading guilty to computer hacking offences (unauthorised modification 
of a computer contrary to section three of the Computer Misuse Act 1990) 
at an earlier hearing in September.

Byrne was charged in May following a year-long investigation by officers 
at the Computer Crime Unit at Scotland Yard over an August 2004 attack 
on loveand He used brute force methods to find easily 
guessable passwords in order to gain illicit access to four profiles on 
loveandfriends' database.

These profiles were subsequently defaced. Byrne then made demands for 
payment in exchange for holding off on threats to delete the firm's 
database. Andy MacCabe, managing director of loveandfriends, said at the 
time that the attacker only had member level access to four profiles 
with weak passwords. The hacker did not at any time gain access to the 
loveandfriends financial database or web servers despite threats to the 

Byrne was charged with extortion over these demands but these charges 
were subsequentally dropped. After tracing Byrne to his then home in 
Sheffield, Met Police officers recovered evidence that he was 
responsible for writing the Mirsa-A and Mirsa-B mass mailing worms, 
which posed as messages from campaign group Fathers 4 Justice. The 
campaign group condemned the attack.

In sentencing Byrne, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin commended the investigative 
work of DC Billington and DC Sheikh. Byrne's offences were on the cusp 
of meriting a custodial sentence, Judge Rivlin said.

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