[ISN] Hacker, 16, suspected of wide campaign

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Tue Feb 02 1999 - 14:49:15 PST

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    Forwarded From: Erik Parker <netmaskat_private>
    Web of disruption
    Hacker, 16, suspected of wide campaign
    Paul Cherry, the Gazette
    RCMP investigators sifting through data in a computer seized from a brash
    16-year-old Montreal-area hacker say they are finding trails of
    cybermischief that run through Ottawa, Massachusetts and as far away as
    The boy was online at home when the RCMP came knocking this week. 
    He appears to have attempted to hack into important computer systems in
    different parts of the world, an investigator close to the case said. 
    The boy is suspected of trying to hack into the NASA computer network and
    an RCMP Web site. Companies in Norway are also interested in the
    16-year-old's activities, police say. 
    A person who identified himself as the hacker called The Gazette last
    night.  Asked several questions about details of the case that had not yet
    been reported anywhere, he correctly answered all of them. 
    He said he wanted to be interviewed so he could say he is a successful
    hacker who has penetrated sensitive U.S. university and government sites. 
    Cautioned that what he said might incriminate him, he answered: "I don't
    care. I've told (the RCMP) already," and added: "I'll be a hacker
    He described himself as a bored teenager who left high school months ago
    and spends most of his time hacking into computers and sharing details,
    through computer chat rooms, of his exploits with a group of friends who
    call themselves Segfault. 
    He started hacking about six months ago and has already penetrated a U.S. 
    army computer network, he said. 
    "At the beginning I was, like, excited. At the end it was, like, lame
    because it was so easy. Like, it was so sad. Our whole team, we hack to
    get better and better stuff." 
    Asked whether he fears a prison term, he said that if he "went to jail
    over this" his team of hackers would disable "Montreal in one second." 
    While he didn't complain about the RCMP raid on his "box," he said he
    couldn't understand why they took away a book on computer coding that he
    had bought for himself at Christmas. 
    The RCMP investigators handling the case are treating it seriously. 
    "We executed a search warrant on Wednesday, and when we entered the house
    he was online and quite busy," said Sgt. Jacques Desilets, who is heading
    the investigation. 
    No charges have been laid yet, but investigators say they have found the
    16-year-old's recent computer activity stretches beyond causing the
    slowdown of a Nova Scotia Internet-service company, the incident that led
    police to him. 
    "We're getting requests right, left and centre on this,'' Desilets said. 
    "This kid was extremely busy. He was all over the place in the States,
    Canada and Europe. Netmask rules. At this point in time we're still trying
    to figure out the extent of his activities. We don't know the extent of
    the damage he has caused." 
    The technology division of the RCMP commercial-crime unit in Montreal is
    composed of four officers and is expected to double in size within a year. 
    Desilets said the 16-year-old is one of the top hackers ever uncovered by
    authorities in Quebec. 
    "He has frozen up services for five hours at a company in Norway where
    people couldn't use (the Internet). Our investigators have been in touch
    with the authorities in Norway, and they are quite interested in seeing us
    lay charges against this fellow here." 
    An investigator who was going through the computer's data logs said that
    if anyone guarding a computer Internet network warned the hacker to leave
    the electronic premises, he would quickly launch an attack on its servers,
    sending them a blitz of confusing electronic data that caused shutdowns. 
    "I remember that," the young caller said last night, launching into
    computer lingo. "I shut it down for five hours because the (administrator)
    was E-mailing all my shells.  So I just killed him for five hours." 
    The RCMP investigation of the boy began in Montreal around Christmas after
    the division learned of complaints out of Toronto that a hacker was
    wreaking havoc with systems in Ontario. 
    As that investigation progressed, the RCMP in Halifax were called by an
    Internet company there. 
    The company's computers were being assaulted electronically during the
    first three weeks of January by what is referred to in hacker circles as a
    "smurf attack." The hacker sends unreadable electronic data to a computer
    site, paralyzing the network servers and blocking service to customers. In
    the case of the Nova Scotia company, thousands of customers were affected. 
    "While it didn't bring the system crashing down, it slowed the system
    enough that the company was receiving many complaints," said Sgt. Al
    Langille of the Nova Scotia RCMP's commercial-crimes unit. The sergeant
    himself was a customer of the Internet company and had problems receiving
    E-mail before the investigation started. 
    Through computer logs, the Nova Scotia RCMP tracked the hacker through a
    series of computer networks, including one at the Massachusetts Institute
    of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., to a server in Montreal. 
    University computer systems are often used by hackers as a way to disguise
    their route to an intended victim, Langille said. They are selected
    because many users are logged on at one time, so hacker activity is hard
    to detect. 
    The search also brought investigators to World Wide Web sites and the
    Internet Relay Chat network, where they eventually found two people
    bragging online about how they had invaded the Halifax Internet company. 
    The RCMP unit in Halifax contacted its Montreal counterpart and told it
    the hacker had been traced to a local computer service. The Montreal unit
    found out whose account it was. 
    "They had an investigation going on at the same time, and we came to
    realize it was the same person during a phone call," Langille said. 
    The Nova Scotia division was looking for a second hacker in that province,
    but said it didn't expect to make an arrest yesterday. Langille said he
    couldn't reveal whether the two hackers are believed to have worked
    The RCMP aren't sure when the 16-year-old questioned here will be charged. 
    The computer seized at his home is being thoroughly examined. The boy was
    detained in his parents' house Wednesday night as the RCMP investigators
    questioned him. He was not in custody, but could face up to 10 years in
    "We have a lot of work to do in the investigation before we know exactly
    what he will be charged with and when,'' Desilets said. 
    "But with what we have in front of us at this point in time, in all
    likelihood he will be charged. 
    "We have numerous organizations and people to contact to complete the
    investigation. I can see it stretching for weeks maybe." 
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