“Biggest military hacker of all time” looking for UFO evidence

Gary McKinnon, 39, of Wood Green, north London, was arrested and accused of breaking into 97 US military computer systems. McKinnon was reportedly looking for evidence of UFOs.

At his extradition hearing, prosecutor Janet Boston, representing the U.S., told the Bow Street magistrates’ court that he had caused nearly $700,000 (£383,000) in damages. She also made the claim that on one occasion he had made “the US Army’s military district of Washington network — inoperable.”

McKinnon told the Guardian he only mistakenly deleted some files, and only once.

He strenuously denies the justice department’s charge that he caused the “US military district of Washington” to become “inoperable”. Well, once, he admits, but only once, he inadvertently pressed the wrong button and may have deleted some government files. — The Guardian

McKinnon was granted bail and will reappear in court on the 27 July. One of his conditions of release is that he cannot use the Internet.

More coverage from The Telegraph.

Once again the U.S. is exaggerating the truth to make hackers look far more evil than they really are. First off, you have the ludicrous claim that one person somehow caused $700,000 worth of damage to computer systems — from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean! This is not entirely true; most of this dollar amount will invariably be the costs of securing the computers in question. But since government computer security royally sucks in the first place, it’s doubtful such security will ever be properly implemented anyway. That’s an interesting way to get your security measures paid for: just wait for a hacker to walk in, and try to stick him with the bill. Whether the hacker is right or wrong, it is absolutely wrong for the government — or a business — to leave its computers and data insecure hoping to hit the jackpot when someone invariably breaks in.

And the claim of taking down an entire district network is just ridiculous on its face. It’s certainly possible to do remotely, but one would have to have the intention of doing so and take specific actions toward that end, none of which there is any evidence that McKinnon did.

Secondly, these computers had dozens of hackers in them, and this guy is getting singled out, probably because he was caught. What has the government done about prosecuting the other hackers breaking into the same systems, or at least keeping them out? That’s right, not a damn thing. Just like always. For those of us watching closely, this sort of thing is old news. Happens all the time.

Finally, does this sort of offense warrant the 70 years in jail that the U.S. is asking for? We have rapists and murderers who get far less than that. And all this guy did was rummage through some files looking for evidence of aliens. He didn’t find very much, and what he claims to have found he found while stoned, and isn’t very believable. What has he really done that would require such an outrageous prison sentence? Is embarrassing the U.S. over its computer stupidity such an offense?

See also Free Gary McKinnon.