Update A Briton suspected of hacking into numerous US military and NASA computers faces an extradition fight following his arrest in London on Tuesday. Gary McKinnon (AKA Solo), 39, of Wood Green, north London, allegedly hacked into 53 military and NASA computers over a 12 month period from February 2001 until March 2002. The unemployed sysadmin is due to appear in London's Bow Street Magistrates Court on Wednesday (8 June).
The US government claims it spent $1m fixing the damage allegedly caused by McKinnon, who was indicted in 2002 by a Federal Grand Jury over eight computer crime offences. The offences are punishable on conviction by up to five years in prison.
McKinnon allegedly exploited poorly-secured Windows systems to attack networks run by NASA, the Pentagon and 12 other military installations scattered over 14 states. Private sector businesses were also affected by the alleged attacks.
According to court papers, McKinnon mounted an attack in February 2002 that shut down Internet access to 2,000 military computers in the Washington area for three days. He is accused of scanning networks for vulnerabilities prior to using a software program called RemotelyAnywhere to snoop on network traffic and erase files. Despite the seriousness of the alleged attacks, US authorities are keen to stress no classified information was obtained through the year long assaults. Authorities reckon McKinnon acted alone and are not attributing his alleged crimes to any terrorist motive. ®
At the hearing on Wednesday, McKinnon was released on bail by magistrates pending an extradition hearing scheduled for 27 July. Karen Todner, McKinnon's lawyer, said her client would "vigorously" contest the extradition.
"We believe that as a British national, he should be tried here in our courts by a British jury and not in the US," she said.