29-year-old Oregon resident Ryan Harris has been sentenced to three years in prison for enabling people to hack their cable modems for free service or faster connections. He will also have to pay a $50,000 fine and $152,370 in restitution after being sentenced by Judge Mark Wolf in the District of Massachusetts. Harris sold hacking information, software, and hardware through his company TCNISO between 2003 and 2009 and was convicted in March of seven accounts of wire fraud.
Harris was not a discreet criminal — he authored and sold a book entitled Hacking the Cable Modem: What Cable Companies Don't Want You to Know. In it he describes ways of bypassing cable companys' provisioning systems and methods for spoofing the information of legitimate cable modems. While describing these techniques is legal, selling software and hardware with the sole purpose of enabling theft is not. His defense? He claimed that the goods he sold themselves were completely legal, and that he could not be held responsible for the actions of his customers.