Gary McKinnon – 'world's most dangerous hacker' – to be extradited

Gary McKinnon – 'world's most dangerous hacker' – to be extradited

Summary: The Guardian, out of the United Kingdom, is reporting that Gary McKinnon, the "world's most dangerous hacker", will be extradited to the United States to face criminal hacking charges. McKinnon, a 42 year old unemployed systems administrator from north London, allegedly hacked into systems belonging to the US army, navy, air force, and Nasa in 2001.

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TOPICS: Security
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Gary McKinnonThe Guardian, out of the United Kingdom, is reporting that Gary McKinnon, the "world's most dangerous hacker", will be extradited to the United States to face criminal hacking charges. McKinnon, a 42 year old unemployed systems administrator from north London, allegedly hacked into systems belonging to the US army, navy, air force, and Nasa in 2001. From the article:

He said he was merely searching for evidence of extraterrestrial life, but American officials labeled him the world's most dangerous hacker and accused him of deleting important files and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of damage.

According to prosecutors, McKinnon scanned more than 73,000 US government computers and hacked into 97 machines belonging to the US army, navy, air force and Nasa.

Not to stick up for this guy, but I am not sure that scanning 73,000 machines and hacking into 97 of them qualifies someone as the "world's most dangerous hacker". Certainly he is not harmless, but I have to believe there's a lot of hackers out their with a bigger trophy case than McKinnon's. This is not to trivialize what he has done, I just worry that the US may be over-sensationalizing this to play into their case.

The Guardian article claimed:

His lawyers have fought vigorously against the extradition, arguing that McKinnon could face up to 60 years in prison as a result of his actions, and could even be classed as an "enemy combatant" and interned at Guantánamo Bay. Instead they argued that he should face prosecution under Britain's more lenient computer crime laws because he carried out the hacking from his bedroom in London.

McKinnon is certain to get harsh treatment here, but has he caused enough damage to warrant 60 years in prison and a trip to Gitmo? The article talked about what comes next for McKinnon and his legal team:

In a statement, McKinnon's legal team said it would be taking the appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

"Gary McKinnon is neither a terrorist nor a terrorist sympathizer," the statement said. "His case could have been properly dealt with by our own prosecuting authorities. Instead, we believe that the British government declined to prosecute him to enable the US government to make an example of him.

"American officials involved in this case have stated that they want to see him 'fry'. The consequences he faces if extradited are both disproportionate and intolerable and we will be making an immediate application to the European Court to prevent his removal."

What are your thoughts on this?

[poll id=17]

[Image courtesy of the Guardian article]

-Nate

Topic: Security

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23 comments
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  • Pretty one sided article.

    It seems that you took what the defendant's lawyers had to say as gospel. There are two sides to the story. I would not expect the defendant's lawyers to do anything other then downplay what occurred and paint the U.S. system as overly onerous. Let's see what the courts do before crying about the injustice!
    ShadeTree
    • Once we see what the courts do...

      It will be too late to do anything BUT scream injustice. I have very little faith that the our court systems will handle this appropriately. I'm not sure any court system handles hacking appropriately, but in this case, we've already been cited as saying we want to see him fry.

      -Nate
      nmcfeters
    • 1 Sided is All One Finds Anymore

      The days of unbiased and information-only articles are long gone, I'm afraid. One must be very careful before forming opinions anymore.
      That said, IMO your comments were right on. He might has sat on UK land while he committed his crimes, but the crimes were committed IN the US; thus it's reasonable to extradite IMO, same as if his bedroom were in the White House Sheds out back.
      It's being lax on this kind of idiot and their ilk that allows other wanna-bes to jump right in and follow the lead.

      Besides, we all also know what "60 years" means in reality in our wonderful court systems. He could be out quicker here than if he were sentenced by UK courts. Everyone involved will be trying to make a name for themselves so the more sensation they can hype up, the better; regardless of reality.
      twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988
  • RE: Gary McKinnon

    If this guy caused so much damage, why the hell did he get away with it for so long - 2 years. He didn't do any damage except to highlight the insecurity of machines that should have been much harder to "break into". Blank Passwords. The effing admins deserve to fry.
    jahday
    • Fry?

      If I hacked the U.S. Army, Navy, Air force and NASA systems I frankly would expect to fry. This was not an innocent look around he maliciously deleted files and caused untold damage. You would have to be a complete moron to do this and ex0pect to get away with it. 60 years does seem like a bit of a stretch but I want to know what this guy did first not just what his lawyers say.
      sbass@...
      • Fry?

        Just remember - This IS America.
        If they sentence him to 60 years - He can be out on good behavior in five yrs.
        Wittigpc@...
  • I voted Yes because ...

    I voted Yes, he should be extradited, because of the greater potential deterrent effect. We would all be better off if hackers were deterred from doing their badness.
    bmeacham98@...
  • As an American

    He should be extradited and commensurate punishment should be instated. Mind you, I'm not agreeing with excessive punishment here, rather that we need to begin establishing that hacking is a serious crime.

    Should he be labeled an enemy combatant? Don't know, did he attempt to attack the US or was he a stupid nosy guy who was just being stupid and looking for UFO docs?

    But yeah, he should be extradited. And no, the US shouldn't seek to see him fry. The law is still the rule here and the government must respect that. Fortunately for McKinnon, the US supreme court acts like an oligarchy and a liberal one at that. I have no doubts they are watching the case and preparing to step in on his behalf when he arrives.
    mtgarden
    • As an American

      Where have you been - at the top of a mountain?

      The rule of law has not existed in this country since Bush and his cronies suspended habeus corpus, started condoning kidnapping foreign nationals, and torture.

      What this guy did is wrong, but I have no faith that my government will treat him fairly or according to the laws of our land, or international law.

      Oh yeah - you forgot in your first paragraph between him being extradited and punished to mention the part about conducting a fair trial judged by his peers. That my have been a tell about your pre-judgment of him.(?)
      Daiv_Skinner
    • You expect a "fair" trial in the US?

      Unless you've mysteriously time travelled from the year 2000 to today, you'd know that any hope or semblance of a balanced trial in the US for a crime of this nature is like hoping for everlasting world peace to happen by tomorrow.

      Good luck with that, and I sincerely hope you were joking in your comments on the government respecting the constitution and the law and the courts being liberal. I wonder how many gitmo detainees share this belief.
      kraterz
    • "The law is still the rule here and the government must respect that"

      Keep telling yourself that.
      bmerc
  • RE: Gary McKinnon ??? 'world's most dangerous hacker' ??? to be extradited

    He deseves to be put to work for the DOD to help them protect there systems. It would make more sense then prison time.
    Gardul
  • I have an in-the-middle compromise...

    Send his ass to Gitmo...
    BitTwiddler
    • Gitmo?

      I wouldn't object to that. But it won't happen; nothing terrorist about his actions. Just stupidity and financial damages.
      twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988
  • Gitmo? He'll be working for the US Gvmt.....

    But not DOD, think Blacker than Khaki or camoflage suits.

    Yes. I think he should be extredited to the US and be given a good paying job with the Government. Then at least they'll have one compitent person there.
    dunn@...
    • OOPs, fat fingered make that "competent"

      NT
      dunn@...
  • Easy solution...

    Here's how to not get extradited to the US to face criminal hacking charges: don't hack into DOD computers.
    gtvr
  • Gary McKinnon ??? 'world's most dangerous hacker' thats a good joke!!

    Gary McKinnon is far from being the most dangerous hacker in the world. I dont care how good you are, the agencies responsible for security should be hammered more. How do you scan 73,000 nodes and not be detected? The part I find amusing is he only compromised 97 nodes. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.....a kid could do more damage than that. This is the DOD, their process for testing security is a joke. Mainly because of the size of the network, lack of budget, lack of training and lack of skilled manpower.

    Will the civilian security contractors be penalized for not catching on to this right away? Will the Colonel be relieved of his command or be denied promotions for not running a secure enough shop......I dont think so.

    Security goes both ways, thats thy they have a Red Team and Blue Team. Attack and Defend.
    Fr0gM@...
    • I agree, but ...

      <quote>. This is the DOD, their process for testing security is a joke. Mainly because of the size of the network, lack of budget, lack of training and lack of skilled manpower.

      Will the civilian security contractors be penalized for not catching on to this right away? Will the Colonel be relieved of his command or be denied promotions for not running a secure enough shop......I dont think so
      </quote>

      I have to disagree with some of that part. In the end, it is plain, unmitigated, intentional IGNORANCE on their parts! How often does one come across one of any of those parties and others too, that has the faintest idea what "security" means in the sense of the 'net? Whenever the opportunity arises, I ask them about this very thing. Listen closely and you quiuckly discover all they know is a few buzz words they've memorized, and within the first three sentences they will go out of context. 2nd is, they simply don't care and figure someone else can do it.
      I am convinced it is not a matter of money or manpower; it's more ignorance and lack of empathy.
      twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988
  • I dont know

    He did commit a crime against the US, he is not denying it, he has even said how he did it, (http://news.zdnet.co.uk/security/0,1000000189,39454360,00.htm towards the bottom you will see his picture click on it and it will play his interview) all he wants to do is to be tried in the least punitive place. Is that really fair to the US?? When I think about this I dont think his argument has real merit, yes he was in the UK when he hacked the computers, however the computers he hacked were in the US, so the place where he actually commited a crime was in the US. That is really what it comes down to. I dont think the punishment fits the crime if he goes to gitmo however I can see the argument, he is a foreign national that compromised a US government network, property owned by the government. In other words he attacked US Government property. Reality do we really know that is what he was really doing?? I mean Navy computers?? Why would he think the Navy has UFO data??
    NoThomas