in Surveillance

Gary McKinnon Loses Extradition Appeals

Gary has lost the latest round in the battle for extradition to the USA.

Above is a link to an article on the wired website.

When I was a teenager I spent a lot of time in my room trying to break into various computer systems, and like Gary, most of the systems I gained access to had very little security (if any at all) and it was as easy as finding the computer and then entering some default usernames and passwords.  I was doing this during the mid-90′s using a dial up modem and a “war dialer” and a brute force password cracker (if needed).  I would leave the computer on over night dialing a range of free call numbers and the computer would log any that had a modem attached.  The next day I would spend time going through each one that was successful and see if I was able to gain access to the system.  Essentially my main goal was so that I could gain access to the “internet” but via a free phone call.  This also led me onto exploring phone phreaking – a means to exploit the phone network to gain free phone calls.

I never had any malicious intent, and generally my only reason for doing it was “because I could”.

Gary had an obsession with UFO’s and conspiracies.  He smoked a lot of weed, and spend hours and hours trying to break into systems that SHOULD have had a high level of security – the fact that they didn’t just goes to show how slack people can be when it comes to computer security.  He performed his hacking in 2001-2002 , and I would have presumed that by then a lot of system admin and network managers would have been more aware of the techniques he used to gain access to their systems.  I can only presume that even today, 7 years on, that many computer systems are still woefuly unsecure.

I feel incredibly sorry for Gary.  His obsession, and what has happened to him could so easily have been me.  I spent a great deal of time involved in the world of conspiracy theories, and computer “hacking / cracking”.


  1. You’d have to ask him if he found evidence… I doubt it though. But it does beg the question why the US Government are being so harsh on him – after all he was a pretty lame hacker (used his own email address, didn’t try to hide his IP etc etc ) poor sod.

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