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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 06:06 GMT
UK 'hacker' wanted by US
Pentagon
Two of the alleged hacks were at the Pentagon
Federal authorities in the US are seeking to extradite a British man for allegedly hacking into nearly 100 computer networks operated by the military and Nasa.

Gary McKinnon, an unemployed computer programmer from Hornsey in north London, is accused of what is described in the US as the biggest military computer hack of all time.

He has been charged with eight counts of computer fraud, and causing damage estimated at nearly $1m.

Authorities said he also disrupted military operations.


This is an incredibly sophisticated cyber criminal... he was a very busy guy

US Attorney Christopher Christie

Over one year he allegedly stole passwords, deleted files, monitored traffic and shut down computer networks on military bases from Pearl Harbour to Connecticut.

Two of the alleged computer break-ins were at the Pentagon.

He also allegedly crashed a system of 300 computers at a New Jersey navy facility, Earle Naval Weapons Station in Colts Neck, shortly after the 11 September attacks.

So concerned were naval staff that the network was in effect shut down for a week. The station replenishes munitions and supplies for the Atlantic fleet.

'Sensitive' information

Mr McKinnon also hacked into Nasa, the University of Tennessee, a public library in Pennsylvania, and several private businesses, according to the charges.

"This is an incredibly sophisticated cyber criminal," said Newark US Attorney Christopher Christie. "He was a very busy guy."


Ultimately, he is alleged to have crashed the computers running the network for the military district of Washington

Us Attorney Paul McNulty
The authorities said no classified information had been accessed, nor did they believe the hacking was terrorist-related.

They suspect Mr McKinnon, 36, acted alone.

US Attorney Paul McNulty alleged that McKinnon searched for computers that were "open for attack" - possibly through publicly accessible websites.

It is alleged he would then install hacker tools, including a remote administrator programme that could not be detected and which gave him control of the computer.

With these, he allegedly accessed other computers from which he copied files and deleted critical systems files, Mr McNulty said.

"Ultimately, he is alleged to have crashed the computers running the network for the military district of Washington."

Arrest acknowledged

Mr McNulty said Mr McKinnon had accessed "sensitive", but not classified, information.

Mr McKinnon's lawyers in London issued a statement on Tuesday acknowledging that he was arrested in March for computer-related offences. He is not believed to be in custody at the moment.

Mr McKinnon has been indicted in northern Virginia and New Jersey, for offences concerning 14 states.

If convicted, he faces a lengthy prison sentence.

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The BBC's George Eykyn
"Allegedly all done by an unemployed computer programmer from north London"
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