- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 14, 2002

An unemployed British computer administrator will fight U.S. efforts to extradite him in what authorities are calling the largest-ever successful hacking into American military networks, his attorney said yesterday.
Gary McKinnon, 36, of London was indicted Tuesday in federal courts in Virginia and New Jersey on eight counts of computer-related crimes. They included break-ins over 12 months at 92 U.S. military and NASA networks across 14 states, including two at the Pentagon. Mr. McKinnon also was accused of hacking into the networks of six private companies and organizations.
Mr. McKinnon, known on the Internet as "SOLO," remains free although he was briefly held by British authorities, U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty said. He said the Justice Department will seek to extradite Mr. McKinnon, a rare move in international hacking cases.
Solicitor Karen Todner accused U.S. prosecutors of a "political" motivation in seeking extradition, saying in a statement that it was "proposed to make an example of Mr. McKinnon." Miss Todner said British authorities have the opportunity to charge Mr. McKinnon and try him in England.
Her statement stopped short of professing Mr. McKinnon's innocence, although she added: "We also wish to emphasize on behalf of Mr. McKinnon that he has no terrorist links whatsoever."
Mr. McKinnon was charged in "the biggest hack of military computers ever, at least ever detected," Mr. McNulty said.
He estimated the damage, including the cost to reinstall software on the affected computers, at $900,000.
Officials said they intend to prosecute Mr. McKinnon separately in Virginia and New Jersey. Mr. McKinnon faces up to 10 years in prison plus fines of $250,000 on each of eight counts, Mr. McNulty said.
Using automated software available on the Internet, Mr. McKinnon used his home computer to scan tens of thousands of computers on U.S. military networks, looking for ones that might have flaws in the Microsoft Windows NT operating system, Mr. McNulty said. Many of the computers he broke into were protected by easy-to-guess passwords, investigators said.

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