Cork man hacked Park Magic computer system to get free parking in city

Case against accused first prosecution under Criminal Justice (Offences Relating to Information Systems) Act 2017
Cork man hacked Park Magic computer system to get free parking in city

Accused used his IT skills to hack into Park Magic's computer system and he increased the credit on his parking account by a value of €270, court heard. File picture: Larry Cummins

A personal trainer who paid a huge price for getting a small amount of free parking by hacking into a computer system has now been given a two-year suspended jail term.

30-year-old David Young’s case at Cork Circuit Criminal Court — for an offence dating from May to September 2018 — was the first prosecution under the Criminal Justice (Offences Relating to Information Systems) Act 2017.

The computer crime prosecution arose out of an investigation into the hacking of a computer parking system.

David Young was arraigned at Cork Circuit Criminal Court where he pleaded guilty to three of the charges against him related to the Park Magic system, a private company operating the parking system on behalf of Cork City Council.

Detective Garda Paul Fitzpatrick of the Garda National Cyber Crime Unit brought the charges against David Young from Cois na hAbhann, Cloyne, Co Cork.

Suspected cybercrime reported

The detective said Cork City Council reported a suspected cybercrime against Park Magic in September 2018.

Det Garda Fitzpatrick said there was a temporary vulnerability in its IT system during the upgrading of software which allowed for the manual alteration of customers' accounts whereby their credit could be increased. 

In effect, David Young used his IT skills to hack into the computer system and he increased the credit on his parking account by a value of €270.

Park Magic got an IT consultant to fix the problem in the system and this remediation cost more than €12,000. The defendant paid for all of this work and for the €270 worth of parking.

Judge Boyle said: “You have paid a very high price indeed for €270 worth of free parking.” 

Defence barrister Emmet Boyle agreed the amount of money involved in the fraud was actually quite small.

However, Mr Boyle said the defrauded company’s newly implemented preventative measures to safeguard its system against such offences had made it much more robust.

Mr Boyle said the accused had no previous convictions of any kind and had not come to any adverse attention of An Garda Síochána since.

David Young pleaded guilty to intentionally accessing an information system without lawful authority or reasonable excuse by infringing a security measure between May and August 2018. 

He also admitted operating a computer with the intention of making a gain for himself and others and causing a loss to others. Finally, he admitted dishonestly obtaining parking credit totalling €270 between May 28, 2018, and August 17, 2018.

Judge Boyle said the compensation of over €12,000 was a token of remorse and that the pleas of guilty obviated the need for what would have been a long trial.

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