Former prosecutor: Mayor's plea for UFO hacker is off base
London mayor appealed to Obama to forgive British hacker who hit military computers
Computerworld - A former prosecutor says the mayor of London was ignoring the facts this week when he publicly threw his support behind the man who has admitted hacking into U.S. military computers in 2001.
Scott Christie, an assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey in 2002 when Gary McKinnon of London was indicted in the case, told Computerworld that London Mayor Boris Johnson's emotional defense of the hacker is obscuring the facts and circumstances surrounding the crime. McKinnon has acknowledged that he hacked into U.S. government and military computer systems simply to look for information on UFOs.
But while the U.S. government alleges McKinnon caused $900,000 in damages to computers in 14 states, and that he caused the shutdown of critical military networks shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the mayor of London offered a very different take on it in a column that he wrote for London's Telegraph newspaper. The column was a public plea for President Barack Obama to drop the case against McKinnon.
Johnson called U.S. efforts to prosecute McKinnon a "legal nightmare." And saying that McKinnon is not a threat to the U.S., Johnson also referred to the Department of Justice's ongoing efforts to extradite McKinnon to the U.S. for prosecution as "American bullying."
Christie, who now leads the information technology group at law firm McCarter & English LLP, said it's clear that Johnson doesn't have all the information about the case.
"[McKinnon] has created this cause celebre status in order to appeal to folks who will beat the drum on his behalf and they conveniently ignore the facts of the situation and the entire nature of his conduct," said Christie. "I think that, unfortunately, it lends some credence to the individuals who are painting McKinnon as a victim, to have the mayor of London weigh in as part of that team ... people are resorting to a distortion of the facts in order to further his celebrity status as a victim. It's troubling."
In his column, Johnson asserts that McKinnon is not a "proper hacker," adding, "He was so innocent and un-furtive in his investigations, that he left his own e-mail address, and messages such as 'Your security is crap.'"
Christie, though, says that's not true, noting that McKinnon had worked as a system administrator in the U.K. He also said that McKinnon was able to surreptitiously enter Department of Defense computers and cause a significant denial of service within weeks of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
He added that McKinnon also did not leave his e-mail address behind.
"That's not true. Mr. McKinnon took great pains to obscure ... where he was coming from and who he actually was," said Christie. "He certainly did not leave his e-mail address. He was able to be identified only through the hard work and diligent investigation by the Naval and Defense Department criminal investigators. It's unfortunate that that Mr. Johnson doesn't have a full understanding of the facts in his rant in favor of Mr. McKinnon."
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
If you use ‘password,’ one the worst passwords, as your password, fail to keep antivirus protection updated and don’t bother to deploy security patches to close critical vulnerabilities, then maybe you should consider working for the cybersecurity-clueless federal government; you’d fit right in, according to Senator Tom Coburn's cybersecurity and critical infrastructure report.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Is Your Big Data Solution Production-Ready?
- Read "Is Your Big Data Solution Production-Ready?" now, and discover best practices and actionable steps to implementing a production-ready big data solution.
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses
- IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center
- IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results
- Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup... All Government IT White Papers
- Webinar: Building a Big Data solution that's production-ready Big data solutions are no longer just a nice-to-have.
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of...
- All Government IT Webcasts