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Gary McKinnon will likely be sent to the United States to stand trial for various computer crimes

A British hacker accused of breaking into secured government computers and causing more than $700,000 in computer damages lost an extradition appeal in the U.K.  Last May, McKinnon was indicted in northern Virginia and New Jersey, at the same time a British judge decided that the hacker should be extradited to face charges.  This time, two leading British judges rejected the challenge -- McKinnon now wants his case to be heard in the House of Lords, England's highest appeals court.   

McKinnon compromised around 100 computer systems, some of which were operated by the Pentagon and NASA.  The alleged intrusions took place from February 2001 to March 2002, leading to McKinnon's arrest in 2002.  He was caught because some of the software he used in the attacks was later traced back to an e-mail address his girlfriend used.

McKinnon admitted that he made the intrusions, along with saying the damage was unintentional and he was looking for evidence of UFOs. The U.S. government has spent a considerable amount of time reassuring U.K. prosecutors that McKinnon would be given a fair trial once in U.S. jurisdiction.  

If convicted, the man who carried out "the biggest military hack of all time" could face up to 70 years in prison along with fines up to $1.7 million.

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RE: Playing Devil's Advocate
By lumbergeek on 4/4/2007 10:38:35 PM , Rating: 1
Plenty of opportunity to work at a Government Agency - the White House, The CIA, the NSA...

... The willingness to break laws is a must for some government agencies.

RE: Playing Devil's Advocate
By Reflex on 4/4/2007 10:59:00 PM , Rating: 2
1) Your not breaking the law when your doing security work for the NSA. You have executive authority to do what you are doing.

2) You are the least likely to get into those agencies with any sort of criminal record(even if you were never caught or convicted). Whats more important than supposed skill is the ability of the agent themselves to be trusted by the agency. Black Hats are not trustworthy ever.

Black Hats do not know any 'secret techniques' that other security researchers are unaware of, they simply do not have the morals that White Hats and legitimate researchers have to disclose thier findings without exploiting them. Since there is a fairly large pool of legitimate security researchers and practictioners, there is really no reason to hire criminals. Why hire potential security risks when there are plenty of non-security risks who will do the same job?

RE: Playing Devil's Advocate
By edge929 on 4/5/2007 11:46:15 AM , Rating: 2
Because talents like this guy has are VERY few and far between. For the past 9 years I've worked as a computer programmer (like many others on here) and I've been working with/around/on computers since I could comprehend language but I'm no where near the knowledge level of hacking NASA or much less any reputable company for that matter. Sure, if I devoted my life to it, I'd pick some of it up pretty fast but I don't have the time nor the desire to learn those techniques.

There are good programmers and then there are OMGWTF!!11 this-is-ingenious, programmers.

RE: Playing Devil's Advocate
By Reflex on 4/5/2007 2:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
This guy did nothing special. Like most so-called 'hackers' he simply exploited known problems in commercial operating systems. NASA is not inherantly more secure than any Fortune 500 corporation, they use the same OS's with the same security programs. Like every other network connected system, the security is only as good as the administrator.

I guarantee you that ANY reputable security outfit could have exposed the same flaws he did. The holes are typically already documented, the real flaw is that such agencies have so many internet facing machines, as a result some are bound to have an unpatched flaw.

RE: Playing Devil's Advocate
By rnnh on 4/5/2007 12:59:30 PM , Rating: 2
1) Your not breaking the law when your doing security work for the NSA. You have executive authority to do what you are doing.

Why bother having laws at all then?

RE: Playing Devil's Advocate
By Reflex on 4/5/2007 1:57:29 PM , Rating: 2
Good point, and one the President has to answer considering how executive authority has been abused. But thats not really relevant to whether or not an authorized NSA agent is breaking the law, if the President and his deputies tell him to do something, breaking the law would be refusing. If Congress dosen't like it, they will change the policy that allowed whatever it was and the president will have to abide by it. But the NSA employees themselves are NOT breaking the law even when they seem to be ignoring it.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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