Gary McKinnon, NASA Hacker May Be Taken To U.K. Court

Posted Jan 12, 2009

Gary McKinnon hacked into U.S. military computers in 2001 to find out whether UFOs exist.  The U.S. military computers that McKinnon penetrated included those that belong to NASA.  McKinnon believes that he did not cause any damage after hacking into the systems, but the U.S. government alleges that he stole 950 passwords and deleted files necessary for replenishing supplies for an Atlantic fleet according to If McKinnon is tried in the U.K., he said he would plead guilty.

The U.S. government believes that deleting files and stealing passwords wasn’t the only crime committed by McKinnon.  They believe that McKinnon also disrupted military networks necessary for operations conducted after 9/11.  The dollar value of the damage is estimated to be about $700,000.

McKinnon is currently on extradition to the U.S. for going to court based on a 2008 decision of the European Court of Human Rights.  If McKinnon is tried in the U.K., it is unlikely that he will be extradited to the U.S.

“McKinnon has had tremendous support from the hacker community and even ordinary people – many IT workers have a lot of sympathy for his ongoing plight and would rather see him tried in Britain as opposed to the U.S.,” stated Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant for a security company called Sophos.  “Any form of hacking is illegal and should be punished as such, and hacking into U.S. government networks is bound to come with harsh repercussions — anyone thinking about engaging in these types of activities in the future should think twice. This man’s sorry tale should warn other would-be hackers that they are playing with fire if they break into sensitive networks, and shouldn’t be surprised if the full force of the law goes after them.”

[via PC World]