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back to article US Navy malware infection risked submarine prang

An American contractor holding top-level security clearance has been convicted of sabotaging critical US Navy computers used for submarine traffic control. Richard F Sylvestre, from Massachusetts, installed malware on a computer network at the Italian HQ of the US 6th Fleet, America's standing taskforce in the Mediterranean. …

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Hardly Seems Fair

Ok, just let me get this straight. This guy purposely sabotages Navy computers which are critical to the US Navy and only gets 12-18 months whereas Gary McKinnon is facing up to 45 years in jail for looking for aliens while not sabotaging any critical computers???

Does this make any sense??

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Punishment fits the crime anybody?

IN THE BLUE CORNER:

A bloke who's pissed off because his company didn't get some business (diddums etc) hacks and deploys malware inside a critical US Military system with the intent to cause real damage, by crippling what sounds like a single point of failure for the US navy undersea operations. Resulting, if he was successful, in significantly higher risk of loss of life, damage to US Navy property and last but not least, significant reduction in US threat response and warfighting capability.

He gets 12-18 months and a fine.

IN THE RED CORNER:

Gary McKinnon, a bloke apparently motivated by a bit of curiosity over alien technology, bumbles his way around the internet until he finds a poorly protected backdoor which enables him to have a look inside some systems with sensitive data and, (unfortunately for him), get caught.

He's looking at extradition and a 45 YEAR jail term.

Good to know justice is balanced and fair.

Oh and while I'm at it, if I understand correctly one sixth of the US fighting superiority in the combat cube, namely undersea, is prone to a single point of failure (and yes, I count the 5 computer systems as one, because this guy could infect them all more or less simultaneously).

Is it just me, or doesn't this smack of mindless stupidity? What happened to backup, resiliency, redundancy etc?

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Anonymous Coward

Ridiculous!

So Gary McKinnon is looking at several decades in the clink for having a look around some unsecured PCs while this guy gets less than two years for abusing his security clearance and putting lives in danger.

You've gotta love US justice!

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Stupid

So we have an American who abuses his security clearance to hack into a critical military network, intentionally and maliciously modifies and cripples the computers placing lives at risk. He gets 12-18 months and a fine for damaging protected computers.

Then we have Brit who hacks into military network exploiting poor security practices. Apparently did little damage other than highlighting that the sys-admins need to do their job properly and installing a root kit. He gets the prospect of 10 plus years in prison with charges for causing harm against the US government.

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Silver badge

Let me see if I've understood ..

... this (positively vetted) bozo deliberately cripples three subs and cops 12 months jail and a few thousand dollar fine.

Meanwhile Gary McKinnon plays at being Fox Mulder and accesses multiple military and NASA systems using default passwords (one assumes they weren't Top Secret, but you never know), does no significant damage, but is looking at 45 years in pokey.

Presumably I'm missing something here?

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and McKinnon?

so this guy get a year and McKinnon should get "up to 45" years as "worst cyber terrorist". WTF!

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This guy gets 12-18 months...

... and Gary McKinnon gets 40+ years?!

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Anonymous Coward

Compare and contrast

"Sylvestre was sentenced to 12 to 18 months in federal prison and fined $10,000" with what Gary MacKinnon is reportedly facing.

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JP

Of COURSE this is fair...

One thing you have to bear in mind is that Garx McKinnon is not a US Citizen, and therefore anything he does is a deliberate attack on the nation, an act of terrorism, espionage, and sabotage.

This person, on the other hand, is a mentally unstable member of the US of A, and therefore cannot, in his heart of hearts, have known the potential damage this could have caused his great nation, and is being reprimanded for no going through the normal channels to show his displeasure with his own government.

Simple as that.

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Anonymous Coward

Guys, your talking setencing vs possible time

Hey guys, before you jump to conclusions here, this guy might have "faced" 45 years in prison as well and "got off" with a fine and 18 months prison time with some good lawyers.

For all you know, he might have gone into trial with the same possibility and pulled off a lesser call.

Wait until McKinnon actually gets sentenced. For all you know he might get off entirely. You just don't have that information yet.

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Re: Guys, your talking...

Sadly, I fully expect that McKinnon will never make it to trial. Once he is extradited, I fully expect the U.S. military to send him straight to Guantanamo. After all, they ARE calling him a terrorist, and what do we do with "terrorists" over here? And as was pointed out in a comment above, McKinnon isn't a U.S. citizen, therefore his sentence (if he does make it to trial) won't be nearly as lenient.

As for the "mental instability" of this guy, I call bullshit. That excuse (along with "temporary insanity") is so overused it's ridiculous. And I would bet that in 80% of the cases (my gut instinct says more like 95%+ of the cases) it's completely made up, and only used to get a reduced sentence. My take on "temporary insanity" is this:

Defendant: "I was temporarily insane when I killed that man."

Judge: "Then I'll be 'temporarily insane' when I sentence you."

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Lucky....

Bet he's pleased he wasn't a Muslim.....orange boiler suit and never seen again!

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Where are we?

"If we can't trust people with top-security clearance, where are we?"

How about you start with firing the people who gave them such clearance, as well as those who trained said people.

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How to get a security clearance

I've held the highest sort of clearance (TS SCI for those who understand - and don't give me any grief about other types being "higher," this isn't a penis-waving contest).

All you need is the ability to appear sane for about 30 minutes, no record of "anti-American" activities, and a decent credit rating. Period.

Now, as to the justice of letting a saboteur off with a light sentence, Robert Anson Heinlein commented on the "insanity defense" at some length in _Starship_Troopers_ (which was vastly superior to the movie which was very loosely based on the book). The bottom line is, if the perpetrator was only temporarily insane when he committed a heinous act, the kindest thing to do is to execute him quickly and as painlessly as possible, because he will suffer terrible guilt and remorse for the rest of his life. And if his insanity was not temporary, then it is necessary to execute him to prevent recidivism, or to keep him caged like an animal for the rest of his life - which is certainly not a merciful act.

McKinnon is a scapegoat; the purpose of prosecuting him is to distract from the failure to secure the systems he poked around in, without any malcious intent.

Sylvestre, on the other hand, is a malicious traitor whose actions could only have been intended to cause serious harm to the nation, and injury or death to hundreds, possibly thousands, of sailors.

I am not surprised that McKinnon is being used in this way; it's typical of the Bush administration's grasping at any straw whatsoever in its attempts to distract from its own corruption and incompetence. What surprises me is that Sylvestre hasn't been appointed to the White House staff ... yet.

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Memo to Mr.Motes

Where do they hold these Penis waving contests ?

Bruce

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Re: Memo to Mr.Motes

One can only assume, given the navel context, that such competitions would be held on the good ship Venus.

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