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Notorious UK cyber criminal allowed into prison IT class, predictably causes chaos

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Nicholas Webber hacker
Nicholas Webber hacker

Nicholas Webber's rap sheet should have instantly disqualified him from joining an IT class at HMP Isis prison in South London. Yet somehow Webber, whose GhostMarket online forum was a haven to hackers, virus assemblers, and identity thieves, managed to join the course without a problem. The 21-year-old is currently serving out a five-year sentence after authorities caught him using stolen information to make extravagant purchases. As the leading figure behind GhostMarket, you'd think prison employees would be fully aware of Webber's reputation and the damage he could do with a keyboard.

Apparently that wasn't the case: Michael Fox, who tutored the IT class in question, says he had no clue about Webber's history. His ignorance proved costly, with Webber eventually hacking his way into the jail's computer network. Despite a "major panic" that apparently ensued following the hack, officials insist Webber would have posed little harm during the intrusion; the prison mainframe is reportedly closed off from general internet access. Fox was nonetheless banned from the jail, though he held onto his job at Kensington and Chelsea College — at least temporarily. Unable to find any other placement, he was eventually laid off and is now suing his former employer for unfair dismissal. "The perceived problem was there was a tutor who had been excluded by the prison and charged with allowing a hacking expert to hack into the prison’s mainframe," he said at a hearing Friday. As for HMP Isis, we suspect the prison has since paid closer attention to those signing up for IT lessons.