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Politico's locked room mystery Linux install crime solved

Rock lob boy and 'clueless staffer' fingered in Grimmgate probe

Seven Steps to Software Security

A surprising twist has emerged in the tale of a New York politician who found Linux had been installed on his office computer after miscreants supposedly broke into the locked room.

After his office windows were smashed by rocks, Michael Grimm, a US Republican who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, denounced the "politically motivated" crime as an attack against the democratic process.

The congressman's team issued a statement that claimed the vandals, who supposedly installed open-source operating system GNU/Linux, "corrupted and erased the hard-drive of the campaign computer server, which contains confidential campaign files and polling data". Personal information on Grimm's volunteers was kept elsewhere, and never at risk, and backups meant most of the polling data was recovered.

Grimm's helpers were left with the chore of cleaning up the office on the Sunday morning after "two large chunks of cement and smaller rocks had been thrown through the windows, breaking three 4ft by 8ft vertical window panes".

"Police believe this was a cover-up for the burglary in which the suspect corrupted and erased the hard-drive of the campaign computer server, which contains confidential campaign files and polling data," the statement from Team Grimm claimed.

However officers found no evidence of forced entry. An investigation by New York cops led them to the doorstep of a 14-year-old boy, who now faces charges of criminal mischief, rather than Watergate-style burglars.

"The New York Police Department says today that an eighth-grader at a Staten Island junior high school told a school counsellor that he and a friend broke the window," The Village Voice reports. "The boy, who has not been identified, has been charged with criminal mischief."

The circumstances around the mystery Linux installation are also emerging: a police source told the New York Daily News that it "appears that a campaign staffer wiped the hard drives accidentally after mistakenly inserting a Linux system disc into a Windows machine".

Grimm is yet to issue an updated comment on the latest turn of events. ®

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