Australian hacker who stole confidential employee information from Apple avoids jail

Hacker (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • An Australian man has been fined for stealing employee data from Apple.
  • Abe Crannaford extracted restricted employee information from Apple in 2017 and 2018.
  • Employee details were published on Twitter in 2018, along with links to Apple's firmware on GitHub.

An Australian man has been fined 5,000 AUD and given an 18-month "recognisance" after extracting employee data from Apple in 2017 and 2018.

As reported by Bega District News:

A hacker who accessed confidential employee information from Apple and shared it on Twitter has escaped a jail sentence. Abe Crannaford, 24, appeared in Eden Local Court on Wednesday, June 3, for sentencing after pleading guilty in February to two counts of unauthorized access or modification of restricted data.

Crannaford reportedly extracted "restricted information meant for employees only" from Apple in mid-2017 and early 2018, before publishing the employee details on Twitter in January of 2018. He also allegedly provided "links to the corporation's firmware on GitHub."

Living in New South Wales at the time, and now a resident of Victoria, Crannaford appeared in court during proceedings conducted remotely due to COVID-19 (the defense and prosecution spoke via speakerphone). Crannaford could have received two years imprisonment and fines of more than $10,000 for each of the offenses he was charged with, instead, he received a $5,000 fine and an 18-month 'recognisance', a period of good behavior that if breached would result in a further financial penalty.

Magistrate Doug Dick, passing judgment said that whilst there may have been "no sinister intentions" Crannaford knew his actions were wrong:

"It may well be you're now subjected to online ridicule and contempt, but no-one in this court room escapes that - not even meWhat you did strikes at the heart of modern society - people rightly worry about their privacy."

A defense solicitor tried to argue that Apple did "in some sense" promote hacking, through finding glitches and bugs through its bounty program to help improve its products and services, arguing that "With that ability being treasured and sought out, it's difficult to send a message to young people (about the illegality and punitive measures) if the companies don't send the same message."

The prosecution acknowledged Apple's bounties but that Crannaford's actions were contrary to this. The defendant's computer equipment was returned to him after being forensically wiped.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9