[ISN] Woman says FBI wrongly suspects hacking link

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sat Dec 19 1998 - 21:28:32 PST

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    Forwarded From: "Prosser, Mike" <mike.prosser@L-3Security.com>
    Woman says FBI wrongly suspects hacking link
    By Arik Hesseldahl 
    NEW YORK (Wired) - A woman identified as an enemy of the hackers who
    attacked The New York Times online site recently says the FBI now
    considers her a suspect as well.
    "The FBI has no rational reason to consider me a suspect," said Carolyn
    Meinel, a New Mexico computer security consultant.
    Meinel, author of The Happy Hacker and founder of an online community by
    the same name, held a sparsely attended press conference in New York
    Wednesday to publicize what she says amounts to harassment by the FBI. 
    Meinel claims that FBI investigators, eager to make an arrest in the
    high-profile case, are following a trail gone cold. The result, she said,
    has been a bitter stalemate. She said she would like to cooperate with the
    Bureau's investigation, but fears that doing so might lead to her wrongful
    When told by FBI agents that she was a suspect, Meinel said she was asked
    to take a lie detector test. She agreed at first, but following the advice
    of lawyers and friends, Meinel later refused.
    "I was told that the only reason they ask for a lie detector test is when
    they want to trip you up and get you to say something they can use to ask
    for an indictment," she said.
    Later, Meinel was told she was not a suspect in the case, but that the
    request to take the lie detector test still stood.
    FBI Special Agent Doug Beldon said he had no comment on the case, and
    would not confirm or deny that the attack is under active investigation.
    Published reports say that the FBI's computer-crimes unit is handling the
    Meinel was one of several people named in a message posted on The New York
    Times Web site by Hacking for Girlies in an attack that occurred on Sept. 
    13. The message appears in the HTML code of the page.
    Others taunted by the HFG statement included New York Times reporter John
    Markoff and Tsutomu Shimomura, a computer security expert who assisted the
    FBI in the arrest of Kevin Mitnick. Markoff and Shimomura co-wrote a
    controversial book about the Mitnick case, "Takedown." A movie based on
    the book is under development by Miramax Films.
    "She is writing a chapter about us in her second book.... Her goal all
    along has been to lead us on, watch us get busted, then write about us, la
    Markoff/Mitnick, Shimomura/Mitnick, Quittner/MOD, Stoll/Hess. See a
    pattern forming here? We sure do," HFG wrote.
    The group claimed that Meinel asked them "to hit a bigger and more
    trafficked site," according to the statement. "She told us that she is
    almost done with the book." 
    A second edition of The Happy Hacker has just appeared, which Meinel made
    available to reporters. She scoffed at suggestions that her connection to
    the attack had helped sell more books. 
    "I had the chance to exploit this incident in September and didn't. I've
    been a lousy publicist for this book," she said.
    When first contacted by Wired News on Sept. 13, the day of the Times
    attack, Meinel denied any relationship with HFG. "I don't know who they
    are in real life," she said at the time, denying their claim that she was
    writing about them. "I hope they come to their senses before they wind up
    in jail."
    Meinel said the first she had heard of HFG was Aug. 7, when the group
    allegedly hacked Route 66, a New Mexico ISP where Meinel holds an account. 
    Whoever cracked the ISP apparently also downloaded a file containing 1,749
    credit card numbers.
    Details of the attack on the ISP were reported in Forbes magazine last
    month. The story includes an interview with individuals claiming to be the
    Having written about the cracker underground in her book and for
    Scientific American, Meinel is no stranger to their wrath. She detailed a
    history of telephone and email harassment against her dating back two
    years. She said she has been kicked off of four ISPs as a result of
    various hacking attacks against her. Each attack was reported to the FBI,
    she said, who took reports, but did little.
    Meinel said she was approached by an FBI agent in 1997 and asked to write
    a proposal for teaching the bureau about computer criminal tactics. That
    offer was abruptly rescinded when a teenage associate of Meinel's was
    raided by the FBI on suspicion of hacking crimes. Meinel said she suspects
    the boy, called "Foobie" in her book, was framed by her critics in the
    cracker underground.
    One former hacker-turned-computer-security consultant-Brian Martin, who
    goes under various handles, including Mea Culpa and Jericho-has published
    the details of his complicated ongoing feud with Meinel.
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