IT security and control firm Sophos is warning cybercriminals to
think twice before they hack, following news that Gary McKinnon,
the alleged 'NASA hacker', is to be extradited to the US to face
McKinnon, a self-confessed computer enthusiast from north
London, was defending himself against the order in the UK Court of
Appeal, after Home Secretary John Reid determined in 2006 that the
extradition should go ahead. McKinnon will now be tried in the US
against charges of breaking into and damaging US Government
McKinnon is alleged to have hacked into computers belonging to
the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, Department of Defense and NASA.
He claims that he broke into the networks only to uncover
confidential information about anti-gravity propulsion systems and
extraterrestrial technology which he believed the authorities were
hiding from the public. He has led a high profile campaign to avoid
extradition, supported by many other computer hackers.
"The US Government is taking a hard line towards cybercrime, and
certainly won't tolerate anyone trying to compromise its own
computers - McKinnon really should have considered this before he
went UFO-hunting," said Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant at Sophos. "This decision will doubtless send
shockwaves through the hacking community, but irrespective of
McKinnon's motivations, computer hacking is illegal both in the UK
and the US, and it's high time people started thinking twice before
engaging in such activities."
Back in 2006, a Sophos online poll* revealed that 52% of IT
professionals thought McKinnon should not be extradited, while 48%
said it was correct for him to face a US court.
Should Gary McKinnon be extradited to the
|Yes, he should be
|No, he should not
"The case has clearly split the IT community in half, but it
should be remembered that even if the extradition order had not
been approved, McKinnon would almost certainly have stood trial in
the UK courts," added Cluley.
Sophos recommends companies automatically update their corporate
virus protection, and run a consolidated
solution at the email gateway to defend against malware,
spyware, hackers and spam.
* Sophos online survey, 565 respondents.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.