The student who hacked into the Istana website last year has been given a shot at rehabilitation by a district judge.
Judge Lim Keng Yeow also advised the 18-year-old to apply his IT know-how to his studies - not to doing wrong.
Those comments were made yesterday when Melvin Teo Boon Wei was sentenced to 12 months' probation after he was found guilty of computer hacking.
"Use them for the good of other people rather than for harm. Use them to promote the well-being of other people rather than to act in mischief," said Judge Lim.
The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) student, who acknowledged the judge's advice, is the second person to be convicted of unauthorised use of a computer service by hacking into a government website.
Delson Moo Hiang Kng, 43, was fined $8,000 two months ago for a similar cross site scripting (XSS) attack on the Istana website last year.
Teo, a first-year Nitec electronics student, had admitted to one of four charges, with the rest taken into consideration.
An XSS attack, one of the most common types of cyber attack, "injects'' a script into the Web application by exploiting a security vulnerability.
In this case, the application involved the Google search page embedded in the Istana website.
The court heard that, while Teo's act caused no damage to the contents of the Istana Web server, the website operator and potential users were inconvenienced.
Judge Lim said the courts took a very serious view of any form of cyber intrusion or attacks that threatened cyber security.
"Even acts of lesser proportions are deplorable and unacceptable. They rightly draw public disapproval and should be expected to result in substantial sentences in court,'' he said.
This case involved "an act of immaturity and an act of wanton mischief'', the judge said, but he added that there were no other serious consequences except for the disabling of the website's search functions for a few days.
He also noted that Teo has a record of good conduct at school and has good family support.
Under the probation order, Teo has to perform 80 hours of community service and remain indoors from 10pm to 6am. His parents are bonded for $5,000 to ensure his good behaviour.
He could have been fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to three years, or both.
This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.