[ISN] 'Homeless hacker' surrenders

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Sep 09 2003 - 23:17:24 PDT

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    By Declan McCullagh 
    Staff Writer, CNET News.com
    September 9, 2003
    update - Adrian Lamo, the so-called homeless hacker, surrendered
    Tuesday to face two federal criminal charges of electronic breaking
    and entering.
    Lamo, 22, turned himself in at the U.S. courthouse in Sacramento,
    Calif., ending a five-day manhunt during which FBI agents staked out
    his family's home in the Sacramento suburbs and his defense attorney
    painstakingly negotiated terms of the surrender with federal
    A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said Lamo appeared at 2
    p.m. PT before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Hollows and was released
    to his parents after they posted a $250,000 bond. Lamo is not allowed
    to use a computer and must "report to the FBI in New York City" on
    Thursday morning to face a formal arraignment in court there, the
    spokeswoman said.
    Since last week, Lamo and his defense attorney have stressed that he
    was willing to cooperate with federal police if they revealed the
    contents of a sealed complaint that described the charges. "The only
    reason that I hadn't come in before now was lack of communication,"  
    Lamo said in a telephone interview late Monday evening. "Communication
    has been good today, and as such, there's no compelling reason not to
    go in...I want to come in as a show of good faith."
    Lamo, something of a legend among hackers for his brazen exploits,
    media savvy and rootless lifestyle, is facing two criminal charges.  
    One is related to his admitted intrusions into The New York Times'
    network, and the other deals with his alleged misuse of a Lexis-Nexis
    account, said Mary French, a deputy public defender in Sacramento who
    is representing Lamo.
    In the New York Times incident in February 2002, Lamo was able to view
    employee records--including Social Security numbers--and access the
    contact information for the paper's sources and columnists, including
    well-known contributors such as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter,
    former Marine Officer Oliver North and hip-hop artist Queen Latifah.  
    He also has claimed break-ins at technology companies including,
    Microsoft, Yahoo and WorldCom (now known as MCI).
    Besides his radically mobile lifestyle that often found him logged in
    through a Starbucks wireless connection, Lamo is known for his
    singularly altruistic style of hacking. He stressed that he's never
    deleted any data or asked for money in exchange for identifying
    security vulnerabilities. Some companies, in fact, have thanked him
    for telling them about holes in their network that a malicious
    intruder could use to wreak havoc.
    Lamo's earlier exploits, which he typically disclosed, include
    breaking into WorldCom in December 2001, Microsoft in October 2001,
    Yahoo in September 2001 and Excite@Home in May 2001. When he
    reportedly entered Yahoo's system, Lamo found he was able to alter
    news articles on the company's site and tampered with one describing
    accused copyright felon Dmitry Skylyarov's court travails. The New
    York Times did not respond to a request for comment last week except
    to say it was cooperating with the FBI.
    Many of the exploits, if proven, that Lamo claimed to have
    accomplished could run afoul of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse
    Act, which he is charged with violating. It punishes anyone who
    "intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds
    authorized access" with fines and--depending on the charges--between
    one and five years in prison.
    Lamo has earned the "homeless hacker" moniker for his decision not to
    hold down a permanent job and instead wander the United States on
    Greyhound buses, sleeping on friends' couches and, when necessary,
    camping in vacant or derelict buildings. He boasted that he can live
    on a minimum number of calories per day--but added that he also needs
    dental work and has been growing hungry enough to consider applying
    for food stamps.
    In one sign that he expected this week's confrontation with law
    enforcement long ago, Lamo registered FreeAdrian.com, which currently
    points to an old version of his adrian.adrian.org Web site, a month
    after the New York Times intrusion. In the last few days, however,
    FreeLamo.com has popped up, along with AdrianLamo.com.
    "This has been a very unpleasant and traumatic experience for me, but
    being surrounded by supportive people has helped," Lamo said. "Faith
    ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org
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