Court Rules Against Workplace Hackers


Thanks to the U.S. district court, your computer equipment can be seized without warning if you proclaim yourself to be a hacker. This court, I am sorry to say, in Bums-ville, Idaho, had recently decided it was okay to confiscate a software developer’s system. Why did they do this? Because his website stated: “We like hacking things and don’t want to stop.” Whose website is it? Well, it belongs to a man named Corey Thuen.

Corey Thuen runs a new start-up named Southfork Security. It is working in the ICS/SCADA security space. They are made up of former security researchers of the Idaho National Laboratory.   Thuen was working for Battelle which is a business of innovation (whatever that means). On their website, they state, “Battelle is solving what matters most for our clients today—and tomorrow. Our employees work at the forefront of scientific innovation to tackle critical challenges in human health, manufacturing, security, energy and environmental management. Our work is grounded in the belief that science, technology and a passion for excellence can make industries more competitive and the world a better place.”

SouthforkSecurityWhile working with Battelle, Thuen helped develop an application named Sophia. Sophia was designed to alert users when it detected any cyber attacks on industrial control equipment. These industrial devices are used at U.S. electric plants and other critical sites. The problem appears to have started when Battelle wanted to license this tech but Thuen wanted the code to be open source. Sophia had been in development since 2009.

Thuen left Battelle and started Southfork Security. Around this time, he was trying to license Sophia from Battelle but ended up withdrawing in April of 2013. In May of 2013, Southfork Security spawned a new product named Visdom that Battelle alleges is a knockoff of Sophia. (Oh, the drama!) Commence the sue-fest on copyright infringement, trade secrets, breach of contract, and misappropriations.


The interesting part of all of this is the fact that Battelle was able to convince the courts to highjack Thuen’s computer in order to make a copy of his files. This all  happened because Thuen was now a proclaimed hacker and he must have had the skills for such debauchery as releasing the code to the public, destroying evidence, and even covering up his tracks. On top of all this craziness, the plaintiff was also able to obtain a temporary restraining order against Thuen and Southfork Security. This will also keep Thuen from releasing any of the project code. (Oh, how I would love to get my hands on that code!)

So be very careful with what kind of information you divulge. You never know when it will come back with a vengeance and bite you straight in the ass.




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