College Press Service
IOWA CITY, Iowa - A University of Iowa freshman has been accused of hacking his way into thousands of private e-mail accounts, including one belonging to the university's president.
Joseph Hentzel, 17, has been charged with criminal trespassing, criminal mischief and 2,389 counts of electronic eavesdropping. Hentzel is accused of breaking into e-mail accounts, removing the contents and then storing them in a different account. He had access to IU President Mary Sue Coleman's account from mid-February to the end of March.
Each count of electronic eavesdropping, a misdemeanor, is punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
Investigators were able to link Hentzel to the crimes because of his association with a national hackers group called the 2600 Club, said Steve Parrott, associate director of university relations at Iowa.
Apparently, someone in town handed out fliers announcing a meeting of the club, Parrott said. Police were waiting for Hentzel and other club members when they broke into a campus meeting room by way of an air vent, he said.
Exactly how Hentzel hacked into e-mail accounts, whether he used stolen passwords or some other method, is not being disclosed by the university.
"I think the main thing we're doing is just to let people know you have to be careful with your password," Parrott said.
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