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Teen Apple hacker avoids jail in Australia

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Melbourne

AN Australian teenager who hacked Apple Inc systems over several months and downloaded sensitive data avoided a jail term on Thursday, as a court heard that he was fascinated by the technology giant and found accessing its networks addictive.

The now adult defendant, who was 16 at the time that the hacking began, accessed Apple's internal systems and copied data and authentication keys, a magistrate told a Children's Court. The company contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Australian police subsequently raided his home.

"Your offending is serious," the magistrate told the teenager, who cannot be named under Australian law that protects the identity of juvenile offenders. "It was sustained, sophisticated and a successful attack on the security of a major multinational corporation," she said.

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No conviction was recorded against the teenager, who pled guilty to two charges, and he was given an eight-month probation order.

The hacking took place over two periods, between June 2015 and November 2016, and in April 2017, the magistrate said.

The teenager's lawyer had argued that it began innocently as a result of his fascination with Apple and "love of information technology", the magistrate said. In an interview with police, the defendant said that part of the appeal was "just being in the corporation pretending you were employees", and that accessing the networks had become addictive, she said.

Apple said that customers' personal data was not compromised and that staff had discovered the unauthorised access, contained it and reported it to law enforcement. BLOOMBERG