AMERICAN law enforcement feared industrial espionage after a British software development student hacked into Facebook, a court heard today.
Glenn Mangham, 26, admitted hacking into the social networking site between April and May this year when he appeared at Southwark Crown Court today.
Mangham, of Cornlands Road, York, had previously shown the search engine Yahoo how it could improve its security and wanted to do the same for Facebook, the court heard.
But Sandip Patel said his actions, which caused no economic loss, concerned American authorities including the FBI.
The facts of the case were not opened but Mr Patel said Mangham's actions were the "most effective and egregious example of hacking into social media that has come before a British court".
Mangham downloaded his own computer programmes on to Facebook's servers and saved "highly sensitive intellectual property" on to an external drive so he could work on it off-line.
"It required considerable expertise," said Mr Patel.
Facebook discovered the infiltration during a systemic check though the defendant deleted his electronic footprint to cover his tracks, the barrister said.
Mangham's defence, Tom Ventham, said his client was highly intelligent and of good character.
He added Mangham was an ethical hacker who had a "high moral stance" and Yahoo had "rewarded" him for pointing out its vulnerabilities previously.
"That was his plan here but the activity was found by accident," said Mr Ventham.
He added that when he was arrested he made a "copious" admission and gave the investigating officer a "Cambridge tutorial into computer science".
Mangham will be sentenced on February 17.