Create Legal Software and Face Prison and Coercion by Prosecutor to Hack Clients

New York authorities have charged Robert Stuart with promoting gambling in New York, alleging that his company’s online gaming software was used by others for illegal betting in New York. Stuart was not accused of making bets or taking bets – he was charged with creating software that allowed others to. Extension Software, Stuart’s company, only had clients outside of the US and Stuart claims that it’s only being used in places where it’s legal to be used.

Stuart alleges that the District Attorney’s office tried to coerce him into a plea agreement requiring him to modify his company’s software by adding a backdoor to gain access to the usernames and passwords of gamblers and bookmakers, then distribute it to his clients. He further alleges that authorities expected him to use the backdoor and retrieve the information on their behalf.

Though authorities claim there is nothing illegal with what was proposed, deployment of a backdoor would be a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act without a US court order and permission in the various countries in which Extension Software’s clients operate. Equally troubling, unless there’s evidence that Stuart or Extension Software employees were aware that the software was being used for illegal gambling by New York residents and didn’t take measures to stop it, the case would set a precedent with rippling effects.

Should the developers of free and commercial software which may be used for illegal purposes be concerned? What about the free and commercially licensed versions of Metasploit? Could Rapid7 and contributing members of the Metasploit community be held liable for criminal use of Metasploit? What about John Matherly’s SHODAN? A hearing in Stuart’s case is scheduled for Tuesday, January 8th. I’ll be staying tuned.

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