Sunday, July 23, 2006

UFO Criminal?

I have an automated news feed on my google homepage (a nice feature of google), and I decided to set one up to search for the term UFO. It's funny, and many times (surprisingly) many of the posts have nothing to do with actual UFO's - it seems many people like to compare other items to UFO's for some reason. Anyway, this story has been popping up every now and then, and I've not heard much talk about it on the main stream media. I just got this update which I found an interesting read...
I'll give you the "nutshell" version... This guy is a hacker. I know nothing of his background. Hackers can be grouped into three broad categories: White, grey, black hats. A white hat hacker is a good guy. A sort of Robin hood mentality. He may break into a computer but his (or her) intent is to do good. Many times the security holes that you read about with Micro$oft is found by white hat hackers. They post the vulnerability so that someone can fix it. Where as a Black hat is the opposite. They are into scams, stealing data, corrupting data, and generally messing with other people's computers. Grey's are of course for those that skate back and forth between white and black.
From what I've read, it sounds like Gary McKinnon is harmless. (of course this depends upon who you are talking to). Gary wanted to know about UFO's. He is into conspiracy theories. and he hacks. A dangerous combination. Well, he decided to try and hack into the NASA and other government MILITARY websites looking for UFO data (and apparently 9/11 conspiracy theories). WHY? Lets just say he may not be the smartest tool in the shed. I think it's pretty clear that you've either got to be REALLY good or REALLY stupid to try and hack a government site. Strike that... even if you are REALY good, it's still STUPID to hack a GOV site. It's ILLEAGAL! But I digress...
Gary, got into these systems and "mistakenly" deleted important files. How important? We don't know. But the USA gov is claiming $700,000 in cost to repair the damage Gary did. Not to mention compromising the national security.
Well, Gary got caught! Not surprising.
In recent news he is now being extradited to the USA to face trial and a possible 70 YEAR sentence in prison. The article I posted above sort of paints Gary as just another nerdy guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yes, Gary broke the law (allegedly), but I have to wonder... is a 70 year (life sentence) appropriate for a person who went in looking for information about UFO's? The punishment doesn't seem to fit the crime.
I hope my google news watch will keep me posted with this. It's the kind of news items that won't make the standard media outlets. I find myself torn, because I know what he did was wrong, but I find myself rooting for him. I hope our system doesn't decide to "make an example" of this guy, and at some point common sense prevails.
(Disclaimer: My opinions of the above news story is based upon "facts" from newspapers and online sources which may not be correct!)
One more scary aspect about this story... This guy who is obviously not the brightest person, was able to hack into important GOV computers and do damage (diliberate or mistakenly). What does this say about our GOV security?

What do you think? Should be be tried for 70 years? Should he be forced to pay a fine? Do you feel sorry for him or think he should be locked up and the key thrown away? Leave a comment.

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