The Hamilton Spectator
Saturday, October 24, 1998
page A3

Teen hacker pleads guilty to hacking into U.S. military

by Carmela Fragomeni

The 15-year-old computer whiz kid looked an unlikely menace to the U.S. military yesterday in his respectable shirt and tie.

But he stood before a judge and admitted he had indeed made his way, unlawfully, into military and other computer systems across North America when he was just 13.

The teen pleaded guilty yesterday to fraudulently using a computer system with intent to gain unlawful access to password files, route access, and Internet access.

He is to be sentenced Dec. 18. Meanwhile, he and his mother are hoping for probation his lawyer and the Crown are agreed on. But they also hope the terms will still allow him to use his computer.

Challenge

His lawyer says it was a combination of the boy's skills and the challenge of breaking into high tech systems that led him to hack into military sites in Maryland and Colorado.

"It's a double-edged sword, obviously. He has a talent", said lawyer, Craig Fraser.

Judge John Takach repiled, "It's a bit of an understatement."

Fraser said the youth has been doing a number of positive things with computers since he was charged. "He's been on release (on arrest for the charges) for over a year now and there haven't been any problems."

However, Takach appeared unimpressed. "With the ability he has, it would be difficulty to know that. I am concerned about protecting society."

Takach warned that the boy's probation may include some limits to his computer privileges. Court hear the youth tried to get into an army research lab in Maryland, but it was noticed by the computer's security system and the attempt to penetrate the system was uneuccessful.

Internet Provider

U.S. military personnel were still concerned. However, the attempt, and another at a Colorado military site, could only be traced to a Burlington Internet provider and not the actual user.

Takach was told the Internet provider was in danger of collapse at the time of the youth's arrest because of the financial cost of hacking and from the fallout to its image as a result.

Yesterday, the youth also admitted obtaining credit card numbers through hacking, but disagreed with a police report that he was supplying them, and cellular phone numbers they said were obtained the same way, to other Internet hackers.

Fraser told Takach the youth did not intend to hurt anyone, cause any damage, or make use of the credit card numbers.

It was all part of his experience in hacking, he said.


Copyright © 1998 by The Hamilton Spectator. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.