Feeds

Brit charged with hacking Pentagon, NASA

Military left Windows server wide open to attack

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

An unemployed British sysadmin was yesterday indicted for what US authorities describe as the "biggest hack of military computers ever detected".

Gary McKinnon, 36, of London, was charged in absentia with one count of causing intentional damage and seven counts of computer fraud relating to alleged attacks on scores of US government computers in a period spanning over a year.

From February 2001 until March 2002, McKinnon allegedly exploited poorly-secured Windows systems to attack 92 networks run by NASA, the Pentagon and 12 other military installation scattered over 14 states. Private sector businesses were also affected by the alleged attacks, which caused an estimated $900,000 in damage overall.

According to court papers filed in New Jersey and Virginia yesterday, McKinnon mounted an attack in attack in February this year that shut down Internet access to 2,000 military computers in the Washington area for three days.

Prosecutors told Reuters that McKinnon "stole passwords, deleted files, monitored traffic and shut down computer networks on military bases from Pearl Harbour to Connecticut". He is accused of scanning networks for vulnerabilities prior to using a software program called RemotelyAnywhere to snoop on network traffic and erase files.

"This is an incredibly sophisticated cyber criminal," Newark U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie told Reuters. "He was a very busy guy."

Despite the seriousness of the alleged attacks, US authorities are keen to stress no classified information was obtained through the year long assaults.

Authorities believe that McKinnon (whose handle is Solo) acted alone and are not attributing his alleged crimes to any terrorist motive.

US authorities are seeking to extradite McKinnon, who faces charges punishable by fines of up to $1.75 million in fines and 80 years in jail (each count in his indictment carries a maximum prison term of 10 years).

Reuters reports that McKinnon's lawyers in London yesterday issued a statement yesterday admitting that he was arrested in March for computer-related offences. His present whereabouts, and even if he is currently held in custody, remain unclear. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.