IT community split on hacker’s extradition

HACKER Gary McKinnon SHOULD stand trial in the US for hacking into the country’s military networks, according to just under half the IT professionals polled for an online survey.
This follows the Home Secretary John Reid’s decision to sign off self-confessed hacker McKinnon’s extradition earlier this week and comes as a leading UK hacker who faced similar charges in 1997 slammed the US military’s “sleepy” computer security.
If McKinnon – who is one of 27 people due to extradited – loses his appeal, his lawyers say he could end up in Guantanamo Bay.
But that hasn’t earned McKinnon – who hacked into US military computers over a two-year period before his 2002 arrest – as many sympathy points as one might expect from the IT community.
Leading anti-virus software firm Sophos polled more than 500 members.
Only 52% of those who responded were in favour of the 40-year-old’s prosecution taking place in the UK, while the remaining 48% backed Reid’s decision.
Sophos consultant Graham Chiley said: “Hackers should take heed of the McKinnon case, and think carefully about their actions if they don’t want a one-way ticket to an American court.”
He added: “It’s fascinating to see how the IT community is split down the middle regarding Gary McKinnon.”
The US say Glasgow-born McKinnon – who was arrested by the UK’s National Hi-Tech Crime Unit in November 2002 – caused more than £370,000 damage while hacking into US army, navy, air force, and Department of Defense computer networks.
It claims one of his “visits” to the Earle Naval Weapons Station around September 11, 2001 rendered critical systems unusable and took about a month to repair.
this attack.
McKinnon – AKA “Solo” – admits spending two years exploring the US military networks but he says he was motivated by his research into “suppressed technology” – namely anti-gravity propulsion and other extraterrestrial technology he was convinced the US government had secretly salvaged from UFOs that have crash-landed on earth.
He was finally rumbled while viewing a picture of what he thought was a UFO on a NASA computer.
Fellow hacker Mathew Bevan, AKA Kuji, thinks McKinnon should be tried in the UK.
He told The Register: “McKinnon was just snooping and what he did was not motivated by personal gain.
“There is no reason for his extradition.
“He ought to be tried in the UK.
“The US has labeled him as a cyberterrorist and the ‘biggest military hacker ever’, but this just looks like an attempt to drum up publicity for the case.”
Bevan – who turned “ethical” hacker more than ten years ago – was himself accused of hacking into US military networks.
But the case against him was finally dropped at Woolwich Crown Court after years of legal wrangling in 1997.
He became a security consultant for Tiger Computer Security and set up his own firm, Kuji Media Corporation.
He said: “The internet was just starting out and in its infancy at the time of my alleged crimes.
“The prosecution against McKinnon, and what he says he was able to do, show that US military security has not changed.
“The authorities have not woken up.”
On what he found during his cyber snooping sessions through the networks McKinnon told The Guardian last year: “I found a list of officers’ names under the heading ‘Non-Terrestrial Officers’.
“It doesn’t mean little green men. What I think it means is not earth-based.
“I found a list of ‘fleet-to-fleet transfers’ and a list of ship names.
“I looked them up. They weren’t US navy ships.
“What I saw made me believe they have some kind of spaceship, off-planet . . . that’s what this trickle of evidence has led me to believe.”
Asked what the ship names were, he added: “I can’t remember. I was smoking a lot of dope at the time.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “On 4 July the secretary of state signed an order for Mr McKinnon’s extradition to the United States for charges connected with computer hacking. “Mr McKinnon exercised his right to submit representations against return but the secretary of state did not consider the issues raised availed Mr McKinnon.”

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