By Patrick Gray
February 6, 2007
AFTER a seven-year wait, reformed hacker Kevin Mitnick will finally
begin work on his autobiography following the expiration of a court
order that prevented him from profiting from his crimes.
Mitnick spent more than five years in jail for his exploits, which
included hacking into Motorola, Novell, Fujitsu, Sun Microsystems and
Nokia to steal software code. He was arrested in 1995 after spending two
years on the run from the FBI living under assumed names.
Since his release in 2000, he has worked as a security consultant and
written two books, The Art of Deception  and The Art of Intrusion .
The court order preventing his profiting from his crimes expired on
"I couldn't really write my autobiography or do a movie based on my life
because the Government didn't want me to profit from my story," he says.
"Now I'm free to write my side of the story."
New York Times journalist John Markoff and computer security expert
Tsutomu Shimomura  have already written an unauthorised account of
Mitnick's time on the lam, Takedown, which was made into a movie 
of the same name.
However, Mitnick is critical of the account and says the time has come
for him to tell his side of the story. "There are very interesting facts
in the case that the public doesn't know about that I want to tell in my
book," he says. "We'll probably have to go to the court and petition the
court to unseal my case to make it public."
Mitnick claims the sealed court documents contain evidence of
"governmental misconduct", a claim denied by the US Department of
Justice. Christopher Painter, who prosecuted Mitnick after his arrest in
1995, says the claim of a cover-up "is flatly false".
"That statement seems pretty broad, I'm not sure what he's talking
about," Mr Painter said. "Generally documents are sealed because they
contain proprietary information that could harm the victim further."
Mr Painter, who now serves as the principal deputy chief of the Computer
Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the US Department of Justice,
told Next by phone from Washington, DC: "(The sealed records) really
relate more to the victims, the actual code that was stolen, and some of
the ways they were damaged in particular."
Mr Painter says the courts may unseal some of the documents.
"If he makes a motion it would go back before the same court. The court
would have to decide what is under seal. In some cases the victims would
have to be consulted."
The book will shape up well with or without the court documents, Mitnick
says, as an entertaining account of his life as a hacker. "It's
substantially different from other accounts of the facts," he says. "My
story is the Catch Me if You Can of cyberspace . . . I was doing some
crazy things back then, especially when I was living a life as a
Catch Me if You Can  was an autobiography written in 1980 by Frank
Abagnale jnr, a con man who passed himself off as a Pan Am pilot while
forging $US 2.5 million in fake cheques.
Mitnick says several publishers are interested in his autobiography, and
hopes it will be made into a movie. "It's not really to clear my name,
because I did commit violations of the law. It's more to get my story
out because there were false accounts of my story," he says.
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