Arrested for directory truncation

From Sol Terra’s [IP] Use the Dots, Go to Jail – that’s the law (Interesting People: 24 October 2005):

Today, Daniel Cuthbert was found guilty.

Daniel Cuthbert saw the devastating images of the Tsunami disaster and decided to donate £30 via the website that was hastily set up to be able to process payments. He is a computer security consultant, regarded in his field as an expert and respected by colleagues and employers alike. He entered his full personal details (home address, number, name and full card details). He did not receive confirmation of payment or a reference and became concerned as he has had issues with fraud on his card on a previous occasion. He then did a couple of very basic penetration tests. If they resulted in the site being insecure as he suspected, he would have contacted the authorities, as he had nothing to gain from doing this for fun and keeping the fact to himself that he suspected the site to be a phishing site and all this money pledged was going to some South American somewhere in South America.

The first test he used was the (dot dot slash, 3 times) ../../../ sequence. The ../ command is called a Directory Traversal which allows you to move up the hierarchy of a file. The triple sequence amounts to a DTA (Directory Traversal Attack), allows you to move three times. It is not a complete attack as that would require a further command, it was merely a light =knock on the door˜. The other test, which constituted an apostrophe( ‘ ) was also used. He was then satisfied that the site was safe as his received no error messages in response to his query, then went about his work duties. There were no warnings or dialogue boxes showing that he had accessed an unauthorised area.

20 days later he was arrested at his place of work and had his house searched. In the first part of his interview, he did not readily acknowledge his actions, but in the second half of the interview, he did. He was a little distraught and confused upon arrest, as anyone would be in that situation and did not ask for a solicitor, as he maintained he did nothing wrong. His tests were done in a 2 minute timeframe, then forgotten about.