A Melbourne private schoolboy who repeatedly broke into Apple’s secure computer systems is facing criminal charges after the technology giant called in the FBI.
The teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, broke into Apple’s mainframe from his suburban home on multiple occasions over a year because he was such a fan of the company, according to his lawyer.
A customer enters the Apple store. The company was “very sensitive about publicity” surrounding the case, the court heard.
The Children’s Court heard on Thursday that he had downloaded 90gb of secure files and accessed customer accounts.
His offending from the age of 16 saw him develop computerised tunnels and online bypassing systems to hide his identity until a raid on his family home uncovered a litany of hacking files and instructions all saved in a folder titled “hacky hack hack”.
The teen’s defence lawyer said his client had become so well known in the international hacking community that even mentioning the case in detail could expose him to risk.
The Crown prosecutor also acknowledged that Apple was “very sensitive about publicity”.
Illustration: Matt Golding
The Australian Federal Police executed a search warrant on the teen’s home last year, the court heard.
“Two Apple laptops were seized and the serial numbers matched the serial numbers of the devices which accessed the internal systems,” a prosecutor said.
“A mobile phone and hard drive were also seized and the IP address … matched the intrusions into the organisation.
“The purpose was to connect remotely to the company’s internal systems.”
The major international investigation was sparked when Apple contacted the FBI, who passed the allegations on to the AFP.
The AFP found the software that had enabled the hacking had been installed on the teen’s laptop.
Further analysis found that the schoolboy successfully accessed “authorised keys” as part of his offending.
Authorised keys grant log-in access to users and are said to be extremely secure.
He then used Whatsapp to communicate his offending to others.
The ongoing access continued until Apple eventually detected his presence and he was blocked.