Did BBC break the law by using a botnet to send spam?

Graham Cluley

The Computer Misuse Act makes it an offence in the United Kingdom to access another person’s computer, or alter data on their computer, without the owner’s permission.

The legislation has been used on a number of occasions to bring British hackers and virus writers to book, as obviously anyone breaking into a computer or installing malware is in breach of the act.

It is, therefore, somewhat surprising to find that the BBC appears to be have breached the law when making a program about computer crime.

BBC technology show BBC Click was investigating cybercrime and how gangs use networks of compromised computers (known as botnets or zombies) to send spam. As regular Clu-blog readers will be aware, well over 99% of all spam is sent from innocent people’s hacked computers without their knowledge

BBC reporter Spencer Kelly and security company PrevX took…

Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, on Mastodon at @[email protected], or drop him an email.