Local News

Wireless Cyberhacker Speaks About His Illegal Actions

Posted November 6, 2003

— A Wake County man convicted in the nation's first known case of wireless cyberhacking claims he was just trying to help.

Clayton Dillard said he did it to prove that people's personal information may not be in safe hands.

Dillard used a laptop to hack his way into other people's medical files. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of computer trespass.

Wednesday, he talked to WRAL about his intentions -- not to steal, but to show wireless security weaknesses.

When we last saw Dillard, he was in a jail jumpsuit facing felony charges for invading the wireless computer network at Wake Internal Medicine.

"There's two sides to this," Dillard said. "What's morally right is not always legal."

Dillard admitted he crossed the line when he hacked patient information. Prior to his arrest, he mailed WRAL copies of checks and insurance forms with patient names and procedures.

"My intention was to inform patients that their information was at risk," Dillard said. "I thought that they needed to know."

By simply driving around with a laptop, Dillard detected widespread wireless security lapses.

"I found numerous insecure networks at various types of businesses, pharmacies, different healthcare organizations," he said.

The hacking case draws immediate comparisons to the case of 20-year-old Nathaniel Heatwole. The Guilford College student said he smuggled box cutters onto two Southwest Airlines planes to prove faults in airline security.

In both cases, authorities said the motive does not justify the action.

"It doesn't matter," Raleigh police Lt. Gary Hinnant said. "He (Dillard) wasn't authorized to do what he did, and what he did was illegal."

Dillard said he hopes all wireless computer users learn from his hacking. He has.

"If I had this all to do over again, I definitely wouldn't do the same thing," he said.

Dillard is serving probation.

In an ironic twist, his illegal deeds could bring attention to his computer consulting company, SECURE-SPEED. Who better to work out computer security than someone who knows how to break in?


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all