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Max Butler aka 'Max Vision' on Monday pleaded guilty to one felony count of unauthorized access to protected computers and recklessly causing damage. The former FBI consultant on computer crime had been indicted by a federal grand jury in March and charged with fifteen counts of breaking into scores of US government computers as well as possessing the passwords of 477 customers of California ISP Aimnet.

Ironically, Butler had created and maintained arachNIDS, a catalogue of attack signatures at the WhiteHats Web site, designed to help sysadmins defend against intrusions.

The FBI, the US Air Force, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the US Navy began investigating Butler after Air Force systems came under heavy attack in May of 1998.

He was later accused of breaking into systems of the Argonne National Laboratory and the Brookhaven National Laboratory; NASA's Marshall Flight Centre; the office of the Secretary of Transportation; the office of the Secretary of Defence; unspecified facilities of the Department of Defence; and game maker ID Software.

Butler is currently free on bail and scheduled for sentencing on 22 January. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. The remaining fourteen counts pending against him will be dropped at sentencing. ®

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