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The prosecution of alleged Pentagon uber-hacker Gary McKinnon shows that the US is failing to take even basic precautions to protect its military systems, according to a reformed computer hacker accused of similar crimes 10 years ago.

Mathew Bevan, whose hacker handle is Kuji, was accused of breaking into US military computer systems but escaped without punishment when a 1997 case at Woolwich Crown Court was dropped after a long-running legal battle.

After the case, Bevan became an ethical hacker and security consultant with Tiger Computer Security, and later on a freelance basis with his firm the Kuji Media Corporation.

"The internet was just starting out and in its infancy at the time of my alleged crimes. The prosecution against McKinnon, and what he says he was able to do, show that US military security has not changed. The authorities have not woken up," Bevan told El Reg.

Earlier on Wednesday, a judge gave the go-ahead to the extradition of McKinnon (AKA Solo). If Home Secretary John Reid confirms the decision, which may become the subject of appeal, McKinnon faces the possibility of trial by a military tribunal and the prospect of decades in jail. McKinnon is accused of causing damage to US military and NASA systems that he allegedly conducted in search of evidence the US government was suppressing alien technology salvaged from wrecked UFOs.

Bevan, like McKinnon, has an interest in free energy and evidence of UFOs. "You might say Gary was following in my footsteps and doing the same thing, albeit using different techniques. McKinnon has admitted hacking into systems in interviews. He's unfortunate because what he's done is a few years too late and in a different political climate," Bevan said.

Bevan said the military systems McKinnon is accused of hacking were an open resource that were likely used by numerous hackers, some with hostile intent.

"McKinnon was just snooping and what he did was not motivated by personal gain. There is no reason for his extradition. He ought to be tried in the UK. The US has labeled him as a cyberterrorist and the 'biggest military hacker ever', but this just looks like an attempt to drum up publicity for the case," he added.

Daniel Cuthbert, a London-based security consultant tried over allegations that he illegally accessed the Tsunami appeal website, and subsequently convicted on what many in the security industry reckon was questionable grounds, also feels McKinnon has been harshly treated.

"I do feel he is being made an example of. He screwed up and shouldn't have been in the systems at all, but at the same time the punishment he is facing just doesn't match the crime. For the amount of years he is looking at, it would have been better in the eyes of the law to be a rapist or some other type of violent criminal," Cuthbert told El Reg.

"It's another example of the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] and legal system not being able to cope with the movement of technology. They are still 10 years behind and using the CMA [Computer Misuse Act] as the backbone for all technology related cases," he added. ®

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