A STUDENT today (Friday June 7) apologised to his university and a worldwide computer games corporation for leaking sensitive data onto the internet.

Johnathan Waring, 23, described as “technically gifted, but naive and immature”, was speaking after leaving court with a suspended prison sentence having admitted breaching copyright law.

Durham Crown Court heard the Teesside University undergraduate advertised his posting on a computer hackers’ website, potentially compromising anti-piracy packages for Play Station 3 games.

It led the Sony Corporation to speed up development of new programmes to protect the system from hacking, at a cost of £5m.

The court heard Waring, of High Street, Redcar, had access to the sensitive information as a second year computer games programming student.

He breached regulations by downloading software onto a dvd at the university computer lab, before uploading it onto the internet from his home computer.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said Sony carried out a major inquiry when the information was posted online by someone using the pseudonym El Nomeo, who was traced as Waring.

He was arrested last June and said he was unaware of the potential damage it could cause Sony, adding that he simply wanted to “give something back” to the computer hacking community.

Detective Constable Nathan Hazelhurst, of Police Central e-Crime Unit, said it would take someone with expert computer knowledge to have made use of Waring’s posting and he has no knowledge that anyone managed to put it to use.

Rod Hunt, mitigating, said Waring was suspended by the university pending the outcome of the court case.

“It was the old story of the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

“Perhaps he thought he was being clever, helping others in being proficient in making games and caused Sony great alarm and inconvenience, as well as his university.”

Imposing a one year prison sentence, suspended for a year, Judge Christopher Prince told Waring: “You uploaded the intellectual property of Sony causing it potential damage and inconvenience.

“It also damaged and breached the trust of your university and fellow students.”

Speaking after the case, Waring said: “I want to apologise to Teesside University and the Sony Corporation. It was a completely stupid thing to do.”

He added that he hoped to be allowed to return to the university to complete the third year of the course.

But a university spokesman said: “Mr Waring has been suspended throughout the court proceedings and now the verdict has been delivered he will remain suspended until we have completed our own student disciplinary process.”