Ryan Harris Convicted for Modem Hacking

By: Mike Fossum - March 5, 2012

A U.S. district court of Massachusetts convicted Ryan Harris, 26, of Redmond, Oregon, Thursday of seven counts of wire fraud, for helping thousands of people steal internet service. Harris faces up to 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine for each of the counts.

cable modem hack

Harris previously owned TCNISO, a company that sold hardware and software that helped users to steal internet service, according to the Department of Justice. Between 2003 and 2009, Harris sold products that allowed his customers to modify their modems and also make it appear that they were paying for their online access. Some of TCNISO’s products included “Coax Thief,” a packet sniffer which allowed his users to obtain control of surrounding modems. Harris also unabashedly offered tech support to his customers, via forums on his website, and gave tips to advise how one would better hack modems.

Harris, known online as DerEngel, had also published a book titled Hacking the Cable Modem: What Cable Companies Don’t Want You to Know.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division had this to say in a statement, “Mr. Harris tried to hide behind the banner of freedom of access to the Internet, but the evidence established that he built a million dollar business helping customers steal Internet service.” Harris will be sentenced on May 23rd.

In related news, MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom recently gave his first TV interview after being released on bail while facing multiple charges including racketeering and criminal copyright infringement.

Mike Fossum

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Mike FossumMike is a writer and videographer based in Lexington, KY. Follow Mike on Twitter and Google+.

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  • Anonymous

    You see, if law enforcement and service providers in America was even remotely clever they would pay this guy to help close their loopholes. Instead they try to destroy him and I bet the those modems are still full of faults because they locked away the one person who isn’t incompetent.

    • FooMatic12

      Aw, there you go again… making sense and all…

  • txpatriot

    @anon, @foomatic: yeah Harris is a hero all right. Until he comes up with a way to steal your stuff and make money off of you.

  • lp

    Wow. I’m shocked to read this. He was arrogant and maybe that’s what finally did him in. I couldn’t believe he actually published that book. Even back then, it was surprising that he was still going strong and his business hadn’t been shutdown. But to write a book about his criminal activity? That’s pure arrogance. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    I knew the guy, online at least. He was kind of a dick, held grudges for years, and applied an “us vs them” mentality to everything he was involved in. He took advantage of everyone willing to help him. His friends did all of the heavy lifting. Meanwhile he took in “donations” for their work and, of course, spent all of that money on himself. His website is still up to this day and the only link on it is a donate button! I had no idea how much money he was actually bringing in. That’s phenomenal, really. I guess it couldn’t last forever.

    Anyway, as much as I disliked the guy, I would have been satisfied if he had just lost that business and lifestyle that he did not earn or deserve. I would be happy if he had been forced to establish a real career and earn money like the rest of us. But this… going to jail for years, might be too much. I guess we’ll see what happens tomorrow.