Thursday, April 07, 2005

'Homeless Hacker'

It's been a year since Adrian Lamo's sentencing was delayed. The last word was it had been pushed back to June of 2004. You would think the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York would have moved to put Lamo behind bars by now.

There has been a lot written about the 'Homeless Hacker', but this story from Wired is my personal favorite.
NEW YORK -- Last January, Adrian Lamo awoke in the abandoned building near Philadelphia's Ben Franklin Bridge where he'd been squatting, went to a public computer with an Internet connection, and found a leak in the Excite@Home's supposedly airtight company network.

Just another day in the life of a young man who may be the world's most famous homeless hacker.

More than a year later, Lamo is becoming widely known in hacker circles for tiptoeing into the networks of companies like Yahoo and WorldCom -- and then telling the corporate guys how he got there.

Administrators at several of the companies he's hacked have called Lamo brilliant and "helpful" for helping fix these gaps in network defenses.

Critics blast Lamo as a charlatan who preens for the spotlight.

"(Is) anyone impressed with Lamo's skills(?) He is not doing anything particularly amazing. He has not found some new security concept. He is just looking for basic holes," wrote one poster to the SecurityFocus website.

To such barbs, Oxblood Ruffian, a veteran of the hacker group Cult of the Dead Cow, replied, "It's like dancing. Anyone can dance. But not many people can dance like Michael Jackson."

Lamo's latest move: using a back door in The New York Times' intranet to snag the home phone numbers of over 3,000 Op-Ed contributors, including Vint Cerf, Warren Beatty and Rush Limbaugh.

Although Lamo (pronounced LAHM-oh) did nothing more mischievous with the information than include himself in its roster of experts, the Times is considering pressing charges, according to spokeswoman Christine Mohan. Hacking is a federal crime, currently punishable by five years in jail.

Prison would be an ironic twist for Lamo -- it'd be the first time in years he would have a steady place to stay.

For now Lamo is still free on bond. He also has a personal website.


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