CUHK student who launched cyber attack on bank avoids jail term

July 26, 2016 14:45
The court gave consideration to the fact that the defendant was a first-time offender and the bank was largely unaffected by his act. Photo: RTHK

A university student who launched a cyber attack on a bank's website at the height of the Occupy protests in 2014 has avoided a jail term after a Fanling magistrates' court sentenced him to 15 months on probation, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Chu Tsun-wai, 20, currently a psychology major at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was found guilty of criminal damage on June 21 for launching a flood of 6,652 counts of HTTP requests, a type of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, against the website of the Shanghai Commercial Bank on Oct. 12, 2014.

Chu’s attack, which lasted only 16 seconds, was in response to a call by Anonymous Asia, a hackers' group that operated actively during the pro-democracy Occupy protests.

During the trial, Chu's lawyer presented three letters seeking the court's leniency.

One letter, from an associate professor at CUHK, noted that Chu was a top performer in class and asked the court to give him a second chance, adding that the student was very likely to face disciplinary hearings from the university’s internal committee on student discipline, public broadcaster RTHK reported.

In his decision, Magistrate Raymond Wong Kwok-fai said Chu did have criminal intent in pursuing his action.

However, given that Chu was a first-time offender and the bank website was largely unaffected, the probation order would serve a better means to help him strengthen his law-abiding spirit, the magistrate said.

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