Pentagon 'hacker' questions US cost claims

Pentagon 'hacker' questions US cost claims
Pentagon 'hacker' questions US cost claims 

By John Leyden
26th April 2007

Infosec - Accused Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon appeared on a hackers' 
panel at the Infosec show on Thursday.

McKinnon is continuing to fight against extradition to the US on hacking 
offences after losing an appeal last month. Only the Law Lords now stand 
between the Scot and a US trial for allegedly breaking into and damaging 
97 US government computers between 2001 and 2002 and causing an 
estimated $700,000 worth of damage, in what US authorities have 
described as the "biggest military" computer hack ever.

During the hacker panel McKinnon questioned the costs attached to the 
supposed damage he'd done. Cost of $5,000 per machine he infiltrated 
were fitted with the requirements of an offence serious enough to be 
punishable by at least a year in US prison, a condition for extradition. 
"You wouldn't pay that much for a machine at PC world, he said.

McKinnon allegedly infiltrated networks run by the US Army, US Navy, US 
Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA. US authorities described 
McKinnon as an uber-hacker who posed a threat to national security in 
the aftermath of the 9/11 attack. The former sys admin, who lives in 
London, admits he infiltrated computer systems without permission. The 
41-year-old former sysadmin said he gained access to military networks - 
using a Perl script to search for default passwords - but describes 
himself as a bumbling amateur motivated by curiosity about evidence of 

The Court of Appeal is yet to decide whether to allow an appeal to the 
House of Lord on McKinnon's case. The Scot's team are preparing an 
appeal on grounds including the use of "deliberately coercive plea 
bargaining" tactics by US authorities during the course of the long 
running case. His lawyers argued that he had been subjected to "improper 
threats" that he would receive a much harsher sentence and be denied the 
opportunity to serve out the back-end of his jail term in the UK unless 
he played ball.

The unemployed sysadmin has had these charges over his head since March 
2002 when he was arrested by officers from the UK's National High Tech 
Crime Unit. The case against him lay dormant until July 2005 when 
extradition proceedings commenced.

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