Alleged hacker charged

Elections for positions to the 2012 University Students’ Council (USC) wrapped up almost simultaneously as the investigation into the hack that invalidated its first round of votes – a record-breaking tally of more than 10,000.

On March 2, London police arrested and charged 23-year-old Keith Horwood, who stands accused of hacking into the server on the night of Feb. 14 only to replace voting options with an obscene remark and references to popular culture.

So, what’s the price to pay for giving students the option of voting for Justin Bieber’s hair cut? If found guilty, Horwood could face jail time, said Cst. Dennis Rivest of the London Police Service.

As for Western, a tab of $14,087 remains to cover the damage caused as a result of the server attack, he added.

Completing the investigation almost two weeks after Western’s campus police handed it over, London police charged Horwood under the criminal code, with charges relating to unlawful mischief and alteration of data as well as interception and illegal use of computer functions. These charges can be treated as summary conviction offences, carrying lesser fines and jail sentences than indictable offences, considered more serious under the law. Both were an option in Horwood’s case, Rivest explained.

All will depend on the outcome of his court appearance, he added.

One day after the hack was made, Information Technology Services at Western reported the incident to the Campus Community Police Services. Because the hack was initiated off-site, the investigation was turned over to the London Police Cyber Crime Unit on Feb. 24.

Horwood had previously come forward with a YouTube video admitting to hacking the server and apologizing to USC candidates, saying he meant no harm, only a prank.

Horwood is scheduled to appear in a London courtroom on Tuesday.