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back to article Pentagon hacker McKinnon will NOT be prosecuted in the UK

Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon will not be prosecuted in the UK, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced in the past hour. The decision comes after his extradition to the US was blocked by Blighty's government. Home Secretary Theresa May withdrew an extradition order against the 46-year-old Brit on medical and human rights …

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Good

Hopefully the government can now find some more important things to spend their time on. Should have told the Yanks to get lost in the first place.

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WTF?

Re: Good

10 years!

I can't even imagine what he and his family went through; I feel old just thinking about how long it's been since his story first came to light.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good

"I can't even imagine what he and his family went through..."

Indeed. Seems to me he's received more than enough punishment over the last ten years to atone for even the most grievous of his supposed sins.

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Re: Good

" Should have told the Yanks to get lost in the first place."

Perhaps repealing the grossly asymmetric UK/US extradition treaty brought in by Tony Blair during his term long bromance with Shrub.

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How difficult was what McKinnon did? Is there a talent there that can be used by any one?

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From various media reports it seems like he was little more than a script kiddie, using manufacturer default passwords a lot of the time to gain access to various system. His biggest problem was that he made them look like fools and that is more unforgiveable it seems than actually doing some harm.

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Anonymous Coward

How difficult....?

Not very.

But it's also not very difficult to mug a defence-less little old lady, however that doesn't mean one should get away without prosecution for doing it.

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Re: How difficult....?

>But it's also not very difficult to mug a defence-less little old lady, however that doesn't mean one should get away without prosecution for doing it.

My above question was not meant to infer that McKinnon was right, or wrong- it was just a question.

Anyway, I'm tempted to up-vote you, just for comparing the US Department of Defence and a proverbial old lady : D

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Boffin

Child's Play

What the US DoD described as the most serious case of computer hacking ever perpetrated comprised of this:

Buying a commercial copy of PCAnywhere (used to remote control PC's) and entering a load of IP addresses allocated to NASA and the US DOD until he found a few boxes running PCAnywhere with no usernames and password's entered.

That's it.

NASA gate the police the serial number of the copy of PC Anywhere that he used who traced the number of his copy of PC anywhere to his local Dixons/Link shop and then traced it to his Barclay card and arrested him.

Worlds greatest hacker??? They wouldn't have been suspicious if he hadn't left notepad files on the PC's desktop saying stuff like "I've found all them files about aliens you know"

In 2002 it was pretty common to use PCAnywhere for remote support, not putting it behind a firewall or even sticking a basic username and password on should have been a sackable offence really. It would have been laughed out of court - that's why the brits never prosecuted him in the first place.

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Re: Child's Play

So if I have a shitty lock on my front door it's ok if someone comes in and spray paints on the walls?

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Re: Child's Play

No, it's not OK.

That said - if you spent however many millions to fix the locks after the event (given the massive damages the US were claiming) - I'd like to know that what you paid for actually works...

...unlike the reality - some 10 years after... http://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY11/IG-11-017.pdf

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Re: Child's Play@David Neil

"So if I have a shitty lock on my front door it's ok if someone comes in and spray paints on the walls?"

Not quite a valid comparison, unless you're a world super hero/super villain. In the circumstances, our Gazza found that Goldmember had a shitty lock, waltzed in and spray painted the walls.

In some ways it's a pity that he did. If he'd not, then the retards responsible would have left the door unlocked, and somebody with serious intent (like Russia, or Iran) could have waltzed in and done a bit more than spray painting the walls. And the rest of the world could have had an even bigger laugh.

Mind you, I'll wager that Gary's going to be grounded by his mum for a very long time when it comes to going within ten feet of a computer.

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1. Find the IP address of a Windows server (this was the difficult bit)

2. Fire up Remote Desktop. I think it was called something else 10 years ago, like Terminal Services Client

3. In the username box, type "administrator". Leave the password box blank

4. Press "Connect" or "Login" or "OK" or whatever the button said back then

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FAIL

Re: Child's Play

It's more like some loon going up to the White House, knocking on the door and asking for a glass of milk and the guy on the door letting him in and directing him to the oval office. The guy sits around waiting for his milk for an hour or so and finally leaves but not before leaving a note on the president's blotter saying how pissed he was.

The guy on the door, in a lame attempt to keep his job, makes out that the idiot looking for the milk he stupidly let in was some kind of rogue navy seal out to kill the president.

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Re: How difficult....?

>> But it's also not very difficult to mug a defence-less little old lady, however that doesn't mean one should get away without prosecution for doing it.

So, when are they going to rename the DoD to DoDLOL (Department of Defence-less Little Old Ladies). Or perhaps they could call it the Defence-less Department of Defence - DDoD

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Re:

He logged on to devices which were still using default passwords for the most part. The criminals here are the morons who configured the devices and computers he "hacked"

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Childcatcher

Is there talent there that can be used by anyone ?

In the case of Robert Tappan Morris who was dealt with for a much greater hack (the Morris Worm) much more leniently and appropriately, he went on to become a computing science professor. In McKinnon's case, not being able to do anything useful for the last 10 years - during what should normally an extremely formative period of life - will have restricted his possible avenues of employment - and ability to contribute his talents to the good of society.

A hundred hours community service served locally to McKinnon's residence when the crime he admitted was commmitted would have been appropriate. Destroying someone's career prospects through his persecution by threatened extradition for a decade is a great loss to all of us.

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FAIL

Re: Child's Play

"until he found a few boxes running PCAnywhere with no usernames and password's entered."

In the DoD.

Unf***ingbelieveable.

Fail for the DoD, who being the Defense department might be a bit more protective of itself.

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Pint

Re: Child's Play

Well said, that man (Gareth 7)!

Some commentards always trot out the same tired analogies, refreshing to see a new and fitting one.

... and cheers to Mr. McK, hurt nobody, been through hell already.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Child's Play

You do probably have a shitty lock (as many people with an interest in computer security, I also share an interest in physical locks), and given the stupid comment you just posted, yes, it would also probably be OK if somebody spray painted your walls.

While you're posting idiotic pseudo-analogies, somebody had to endure seven years of uncertainty over his life not because of what he did or the fact that he got caught, but because of political games that should have no place in a civilised society.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Child's Play

"Fail for the DoD, who being the Defense department might be a bit more protective of itself."

Well, there are an awful lot of computers at the DoD, and - difficult as it may be to believe - not all of them have, say, detailed blueprints for a hydrogen bomb, or the parts list for the Stealth Fighter, or the top 10 movies Mahmoud I'madinnerjacket has rented from Netflix. Some of them - most, probably - belong to admin assistants for the guys who maintain the HVAC systems, or whatever. I don't know specifically what machines McKinnon snooped on, but not all of the machines at the DoD necessarily have to have uber-insane security, and lack of same on a given machine doesn't itself imply that all of the computers hosting the US' most deadly and arcade secrets are just sitting around without passwords.

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[apparently] he was caught

because he installed a copy of remotely anywhere which was licensed and they traced the purchase back to him.

If this is the case then definitely a script kiddie and not a cracker of any sorts.

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Big Brother

Re: How difficult....?

But it's also not very difficult to mug a defence-less little old lady

Oh yeah? Well, how would you know, eh? I think it's time you came clean!

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Re: Child's Play

"McKinnon snooped on, but not all of the machines at the DoD necessarily have to have uber-insane security, a"

Let me see.

1)Install a tool that allows remote takeover/monitoring of all screen, mouse and keyboard functions without password protecting those functions.

2) Connect it (and a bunch more) to the internet in a way that allows them to be directly accessible.

That's not "uber-insane security."

I've seen that level of security on a 3 PC office network. A business known to perhaps a few hundred people in a whole country, not one of the world's biggest bureaucracies with access to 100s of $Bn of funds and nuclear weapons which is widely disliked by a lot of quite technically proficient people.

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Looks like cruel and unusual punishment to me.

Title says it all. If he were American, you would have thought this was banned under the constitution.

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Unhappy

Re: Looks like cruel and unusual punishment to me.

It would be, except they ignore their fabled bit of parchment when it suits them.

As in the case of Private Bradley Manning, who's incarcerated like a Taleban extremists, for the crime of embarrassing the bureaucrats.

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Unhappy

Re: Looks like cruel and unusual punishment to me.

"If he were American, you would have thought this was banned under the constitution."

Wow! Ok.

Not sure what your country's constitution reads as, but you clearly don't understand that the American constitution was written by the English (we can argue and nit pick, but they were still VERY much English). So you must not be English or American.

In America and England you cannot commit a crime, then get caught for that crime, and just walk away without a consequence of some kind. And yes, in both countries you can be tried endlessly for the rest of your life until the respective government delivers a verdict. In this case, 10 years of litigation seems to have been enough punishment.

P.S. I almost didn't post this ridiculous reply as it just states the obvious, but decided to anyways because apparently for some it isn't obvious at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Looks like cruel and unusual punishment to me.

Not true. If there is insufficient evidence to support an actual crime taking place.

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WTF?

Re: Looks like cruel and unusual punishment to me.

@MyBackDoor:

In America and England you cannot commit a crime, then get caught for that crime, and just walk away without a consequence of some kind.

You must not be from this planet. Or you're very naive when it comes to the workings of legal systems.

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Stop

Re: Looks like cruel and unusual punishment to me.

"In America and England you cannot commit a crime, then get caught for that crime, and just walk away without a consequence of some kind."

Tell that to the board of HSBC

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Pint

Hopefully McKinnon will be able to move on and rebuild his life from this point on.

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Happy

Celebrate!

Should go for a mad one in Vegas to celebrate.

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Re: Celebrate!

Absolutely! ...and tweet that he's off to "destroy America" as he boards the plane.

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Anonymous Coward

And the moral of this story?

Hack away to your heart's content, no one's really that bothered enough to prosecute you if you get caught, so long as you're not sharing copyrighted movies over bittorrent.

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Re: And the moral of this story?

I'm sure 10 years of wondering whether you're going to end up spending a significant amount of your life imprisoned in a country known for its implicit, and in some cases explicit approval of prison rape, is no punishment at all.

And all for what, showing up a foreign agency as complete and utter fools?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And the moral of this story?

One of the Radio 4 documentaries this week covered the issue of inmates in US women's prisons being raped by male staff members, resulting in a few babies. The prison governor didn't sound the least concerned.

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Mushroom

Re: And the moral of this story?

What he did was wrong. This seems to be forgotten and now there is no actual punishment. The protracted period of pain whilst he tried and succeeded in evading extradition/ prison is not in itself punishment.

His illness is not an excuse, he knew what he was doing....not even going to watch the downvotes !

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Re: And the moral of this story?

Why the fuck did anyone downvote EDFX, all he did was tell the truth.

If the books were turned round the other way and it was any of your PCs that got hacked, whats the betting you would all be really pissed of. Then just to really piss you off, the police turn up and say sorry we can't do anything the hacker has a difficult to determine syndrome.

I have never been able to believe his bloody story, something feels to damned contrived and fortunate......He was fully aware of what he was doing, how do I know, well he repeated the act on many occasions...That is not just a random chance. The guy loved it or he would never have gone back.......

Whether he was looking for Aliens or not is not the problem. He was hacking, that is a determined act from a determined mind, so what if he was just kiddyscripting, it worked..

If Garry McKininnons suspected Aspergers syndrome is such a problem then why does he have access to a PC and the internet ? What stops him becoming a menace again.

If there is one thing I hate on El Reg it is the bloody PC Brigade.

As Marlon Brando almost once said "The hypocrits......the hypocrits"........

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And the moral of this story?

relax man. He has had effectively a 10 year sentence. That is punishment enough for logging on to a system with default creds and not stealing any data (that we know of).

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Anonymous Coward

And the moral of this story...

If you're going to sniff around some crackpot regime's "honeypot", use FOSS over Tor

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Anonymous Coward

And the moral of this story?

NO, sentences deny you liberty and choice, he's been denied none.

Like saying Jimmy Savill has served his sentence for being a paedo by having to hide it for all those years.

some people have limited vision of "it isnt a crime if it didnt hurt me"

no crime is victimless and no crime is perpetratorless.

only thing in between is the scale of the punishment and severioty of the act.

Gary has Aspergers, so does my son....should i let him off trashing his phone / TV / playstation or smashing up his car because of it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And the moral of this story?

Just like the Pikey gangs from Dale Farm used kids to shoplift in Bluewater and Lakeside, so when caught they're under the age to be prosecuted, meanwhile the adults live like kings on the proceeds and benefits.

Crime in the UK does pay, more so if you claim your disability made you do it.

Next week, 10 female murderers get let off for being "on their period and stressed" that day

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Happy

Re: And the moral of this story?

@AC 13:21

That's the first time I have heard an honest comment from someone with experience of Aspergers.

I just wish that more people had the same courage. Well done, Sir, well done.

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Boffin

Re: And the moral of this story?

Were this to happen in America, or an American being harrassed over a period of a decade for his crime, their lawyer would have argued this was "Cruel and unusual punishment."

The moral of this story. Don't sign any document with the US unless you a)Read it very carefully b)Don't accept such grossly asymmetric rules of evidence.

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Childcatcher

@Khaptain

"If the books were turned round the other way and it was any of your PCs that got hacked, whats the betting you would all be really pissed of. Then just to really piss you off, the police turn up and say sorry we can't do anything the hacker has a difficult to determine syndrome."

You appear to think the British police would investigate such a crime.

OTOH suggest they may have planted some CP on it and watch them tear it out of your hand.

TOTC because that's about the only way you'll get a British PC anywhere near a personal PC.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And the moral of this story?

>some people have limited vision of "it isnt a crime if it didnt hurt me"

Not necessarily pertinent in the McKinnon context but very pertinent to your subsequent presumption:

some people have vision of "it isn't a crime if it didn't hurt anyone"

>no crime is victimless and no crime is perpetratorless.

How quaint

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Unhappy

Re: And the moral of this story?

"What he did was wrong."

Strictly as there has been no trial what the DoD has claimed he did was wrong and what he has admitted to is wrong.

"The protracted period of pain whilst he tried and succeeded in evading extradition/ prison is not in itself punishment."

That depends. If you have the arousal level of a psychopath probably not. On that scale he's "normal," and most people have a great deal of trouble dealing with long term uncertainty about their future.

You'd have some idea of what that's like if the company you were working for was rumored (not announced, just hinting at) people are for the chop, maybe we will, maybe we won't. Maybe we've already got a list, maybe we're still deciding.

Now picture that going on for 10 years.

Of course you'd probably say to hell with that and leave.

But what if you can't?

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Given that there's a report today on the BBC website detailing the rampant rape going on in US prisons I think *I* would be suicidal if sentenced to god knows how many years over there...

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Anonymous Coward

FTFY

Given that there's a report today on the BBC website detailing the rampant rape going on in US prisons I think *I* would avoid doing anything that might get me landed in one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: FTFY

> I think *I* would avoid doing anything that might get me landed in one [US prison]

Yeah, normally not going to the US is pretty good way of staying out of a US prison.... or should be.

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