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Losing His Religion: Adrian Lamo Interview 208

Posted by michael
from the that's-me-in-the-spotlight dept.
digidave writes "Six months after the sit-down, TechFocus.org has published their interview with renowned hacker Adrian Lamo. Done before his arrest, TechFocus kept the interview secret so as not to influence the outcome of his trial. It remains his only interview since being arrested."
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Losing His Religion: Adrian Lamo Interview

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  • Only interview? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chris Parrinello (1505) <chrisp@chris[ ]net ['py.' in gap]> on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:20PM (#8817065) Homepage
    Except for this one [publicradio.org] he did for NPR's Marketplace that aired Wednesday.
    • Re:Only interview? (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Umm, there were about half a dozen articles covering Lamo on securityfocus, and 22 articles about him overall... none were an actual "interview" per se, but Kevin Poulsen quoted him several times after talking with him on the phone.

      And you didn't have to wait six months to see that... use their search engine to find all 22 articles [securityfocus.com]...

    • Re:Only interview? (Score:3, Informative)

      by SteelWheel (769945)
      He also did an interview with "Off the Wall", the hacker(?) radio show from the 2600 people, which airs on WBAI in New York.
      • The name of the show is "Off the Hook". Off the Wall is done on Tuesday nights on WUSB (also by the same host).
      • Re:Only interview? (Score:5, Informative)

        by certron (57841) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:46PM (#8818229)
        The show is called "Off The Hook" and is broadcast Wednesdays from 7:00 to 8:00 PM EST. This show was 2 hours long, the day before his sentencing (Thursday), and should be available from http://www.2600.com/offthehook/2004/0404.html

        The show does stream live online through www.wbai.org (as to all their programs, to my knowledge).

        It has some interesting stuff in it, but I guess I could say that about any of the OTH shows.
    • Re:Only interview? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CHICK543 (735061)

      The NPR interview has an interresting comment.

      interviewer: You know it seems to me somebody with your curiosity, your interest and your skill could make for themselves a pretty profitable career as a security expert, obviously.
      Adrian: There's things that I've really learned from the process of my crimes and one of them is that the security industry is a dishonest profession. It relies on people's fear; it relies on manufacturing fear by hyping up the vulnerabilities that have no real world application

  • by Yonkeltron (720465) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:21PM (#8817074) Homepage
    It Figures the Times would do him in. He prob tried to read a story without registering.
    • If he actually read the Times, then I think he's been punished enough.
    • by bfg9000 (726447) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:38PM (#8817281) Homepage Journal
      No, he registered, but he apparently "lied" about his address on the form, saying he was "homeless". Lying on those forms is a crime, you know.
    • Actually, he might have been all right with the Times if he hadn't run up a $300,000 bill using their access to Lexis-Nexis.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      the Times publishes a bunch of made up stories, about life and death stuff, and considers an apology to be good enough for us.

      Lamo tells truth and they want to send him to jail.

      Luckily, the Times gets more irrelevant every day.

  • ...cute young guy like that isn't ever going to want for cigarettes while he's in the joint.
  • before arrest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AyeFly (242460) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:21PM (#8817087)
    wait, this doesnt make sense "Done before his arrest, TechFocus kept the interview secret so as not to influence the outcome of his trial. It remains his only interview since being arrested." How can it be both before his arrest, ... and then be the only interview after being arrested??
  • Slashdotted (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:25PM (#8817126)
    Losing His Religion: Techfocus Interviews Hacker
    Adrian Lamo
    Posted by Bill Royle on April 08, 2004
    The companies he broke into reads like a Forbes ranking list. Yahoo! Excite@Home. MCI WorldCom. Microsoft. SBC Ameritech. Cingular.

    He got away with it by notifying those companies of the weaknesses, and in some cases helped fix them, for free. Then he set his sights on the New York Times. They were less forgiving. Today, April 8th, Adrian Lamo will be sentenced - having plead guilty.

    I first worked to get an interview with Adrian Lamo in July, 2003. Having compromised the networks of some of the most influential companies in the world was not incredibly unusual, but the manner in which it was done was intriguing. Adrian Lamo has been termed the "homeless hacker," the "helpful hacker" and numerous other nicknames - because instead of disappearing into the ether, he would make the company aware of the flaw he had exploited, and in some cases would advise them on how to resolve it. Based on that approach, Lamo was fortunate to have dealt with companies that didn't choose to press charges.

    Then, during an interview with SecurityFocus (not affiliated with Techfocus), he admitted to having broken into the NY Times network. The interviewer contacted the New York Times in a request for comment. Shortly thereafter, the FBI started an investigation. He was ultimately arrested in September for the penetration of the New York Times network, and for using their resources. Today he has pleaded guilty to breaking into their network, and for conducting unauthorized searches on Lexis/Nexis - all on the Grey Lady's tab. You can read the original criminal complaint here.

    Lamo had another distinction from many hackers - he did so while homeless. While his family was willing to house him, he set off on his own, traveling from place to place via Greyhound. Occasionally he slept on the couches of people he knew in different cities, at other times he would sleep in abandoned buildings or anywhere feasible. All the while, he traversed networks using a battered laptop with a wireless network card.

    Adrian Lamo is most assuredly unique. A month after his arrest, I received an email from him asking how the weather was. A bit puzzled, I contacted a mutual acquaintance to verify that it was Adrian. Indeed it was, so we met the next weekend near his home to discuss his background, and the serious charges he faced.

    This was no ordinary interview. Not only had Lamo not given any interviews since the arrest, but the FBI had been exerting tremendous pressure on journalists that had spoken with Lamo, demanding that they turn over all notes and correspondence with him. It was only after a strong outcry from the journalistic community and their attorneys that the FBI grudgingly relaxed their demands, but there was little solace in that. As such, there was nothing written down - just a digital voice recorder with a limited battery. Upon the conclusion of the interview, the recording was transcribed to the PC, then sent to an offshore server outside of my control, in the event that an order was made to surrender it. The digital recording was destroyed.

    We hope you enjoy the interview.

    Update: Sentencing has been delayed until June.

    When did you get started getting interested in security online?

    "That'd depend on how you define started, I guess. My first exposure to computers was my Dad's Commodore 64 when I was six or seven, and as you may have read somewhere, I was interested in making things work differently than the way they were intended - loading, then inputting it and using the list command to see all of the code contained within it to see what the hell I was supposed to do with this blind corner that didn't seem to go anywhere."

    What kind of games?

    "Text-based adventure, like Zork-style."

    What moved you to move from disk-based security to a larger scale type of interest?

    "To
  • They got /.'ed and their server went down.
    • Hey, that's gotta be some kind of record. Since /. only seems to kill servers running a poorly designed page (poorly designed in the sense that it is very resource intensive, lots of scripts for fruity UI and the like) and this site *should* be hosted on some decent hardware... I officially award them the

      "Good Server, Bad Code, Evil /.'ers" award.
  • Lamo (Score:5, Informative)

    by The_Mystic_For_Real (766020) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:26PM (#8817133)
    The interview linked to in the story is not really the best I have read. There was one done in Wired a while back that had a lot more about his exploits. A particular favorite among the stories he told was one where he and some friends were exploring a Gypsum factory while high on methanphetamines. The police came and just when they were about to get arrested Lamo hears a cat and tells the officers he had come in to rescue it. Sure enough they find the cat and Lamo and his friends are not arrested.
  • by jht (5006) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:26PM (#8817134) Homepage Journal
    Because the server was Slashdotted so quickly. Anyone get this mirrored in the 30 seconds it stayed online?
  • Konqueror! Trust me, don't, you'll get very dizzy.
  • Audio link (Score:4, Informative)

    by Unnngh! (731758) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:28PM (#8817157)
    here's [publicradio.org] (bottom of page) an interview with Lamo I heard on Marketplace a couple days ago. It's really pretty good, he also rags on the computer security industry. Not entirely justified, but he makes some valid points.
  • by backtick (2376) * on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:28PM (#8817158) Homepage Journal
    That was fast. I even tried to hit it before it went 'live', and it was already /.'d. *sigh*
  • IANAL, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chachob (746500) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:28PM (#8817163)
    it seems to me that unless the comanies specifically hired him as a security consultant, then he has no legal support in these matters.
    However, he did not damage/alter any of the sites he hacked (excluding NYTimes, which was a minor addition to the list of "experts"). This does not help him in the courts though, because the act of breaking into the company's networks was illegal in itself.
    • Re:IANAL, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cluckshot (658931)

      The United States Constitution holds that no warrant shall issue without probable cause. This means that no Arrest can take place without a Direct Connection to an Injury or the imminent liklihood of such. This NEGATES all this "Law" stuff. There has been no INJURY. For the minor addition line, That is not a material injury.

      I love all the ILLEGAL stuff that goes around these days. If we followed the US Constitution such absurd thinking would be drummed out of town. There simply is no probable cause for

      • Re:IANAL, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gfxguy (98788)
        There has been no INJURY.

        I personally consider $300k pretty injurious.

        Actually since he tends to encourage good things...

        Like giving an underage (said he was a "kid") herion addict $5 to help fund his habbit.

        I'm not saying this guy is completely bad, or that he hasn't been helpful, but he seems to just do things, good or bad, that he feels like doing at the time. Not a problem until he starts breaking the law.
        • Re:IANAL, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 3terrabyte (693824) on Friday April 09, 2004 @03:09PM (#8818609) Journal
          I consider your lack of RTFA pretty injurious.

          The FBI calculated the maximum cost of using Lexus Nexus to be $300k. An unlimited 3 month account COULD HAVE BEEN purchased by Mr. Lamo for $1500.

          • Re:IANAL, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by stephanruby (542433)
            An unlimited 3 month account COULD HAVE BEEN purchased by Mr. Lamo for $1500.

            And even $1,500 is a bit much. If he had not stolen this access, would he have actually bothered to buy it from them? I doubt it, the kid is semi-homeless. Those are not actual damages. NY Times didn't lose any money and Lexis didn't lose any money. At the most they lost a couple of pennies on bandwidth.

          • I RTFA idiot, how else would I know he gave $5 to support some kid's heroin addiction?
        • inflated damages (Score:3, Insightful)

          by David Jao (2759)
          I personally consider $300k pretty injurious.

          From Wired's interview [wired.com]:

          Although the Times doesn't pay retail for the service, the FBI calculated Lamo's damages using the full Lexis-Nexis rate, which added up to a shocking $300,000. It was clearly a punitive figure. Had Lamo simply bought an unlimited three-month account with Lexis-Nexis rather than piggybacking off the Times, it would have cost him just $1,500.

      • This means that no Arrest can take place without a Direct Connection to an Injury or the imminent liklihood of such.

        You're trying to reverse the direction of circular logic; to disprove something that's already circular.

        Legally, an "Injury" is any violation of the "Law". Therefore "Injury" is defined in terms of "Law", and not the other way around, like you're claiming.

        If "Injury" legally meant the same thing it did in English (as you claimed), then it'd be impossible for copyright infringment, tresspa
      • Re:IANAL, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Have Blue (616)
        So you wouldn't mind if I went to your house, picked your lock, walked around inside for a while, took nothing, and left a note on the counter telling you to go buy better locks?
      • This NEGATES all this "Law" stuff. There has been no INJURY.

        Does this mean I can't get someone arrested if that person jumped over my fence and trespassed on to my property?

      • Your theories on the law are from a parallel universe at best.

        What he has done would be the equal to telling somebody that he found your door unlocked on your car and sent you a picture of him with the door open to prove it.

        Except for the fact that he used the credit card he found in your locked car to buy $300,000 of gas.
  • Bill et al,

    Good job. Keep up the good work.

  • Wired article (Score:4, Informative)

    by ElGnomo (612336) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:32PM (#8817209)
    wired also has an article about him. Pretty informative about his history and current conditions. Read away...
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.04/hacker.ht ml [wired.com]
  • by c4Ff3In3 4ddiC+ (661808) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:32PM (#8817210)
    If you go to 2600's website, you can get an mp3 of the last show here [2600.com]. Adrian Lamo was present and spoke about a few things. Also, check the archives, he was on the show previously.
  • by nemaispuke (624303) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:35PM (#8817249)

    According to this article in PC World, Adrian Lamo's sentencing has been delayed until June:

    http://www.snpx.com/cgi-bin/news5.cgi?target=www.n ewsnow.co.uk/cgi/NGoto/55549714?-2622

    I wonder if the the NY Times or the Feds decided to change the terms of the plea agreement at the last minute?

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:36PM (#8817258)
    Done before his arrest, TechFocus kept the interview secret so as not to influence the outcome of his trial.

    That's a nice bit of spin. They did it because they're a website, so in the eyes of the legal system, they're not decisively a "real" news organization, so they knew they'd get subpoenaed in a second by either prosecutors and have to turn over everything; it'd be a legal battle that would get drawn out for months given the stakes. The EFF would probably get involved, etc. A good deal of their notes etc would probably be very, very incriminating to Lamo, since hackers, like most stupid criminals, love to brag about their crimes.

    So, in other words, they danced on the line of hiding criminal evidence. It would not be a stretch for them to get charged themselves. I'd be absolutely amazed if they didn't at least get subpoenaed within the next few days and the evidence used to file new charges against Lamo.

    • By "in the next few days" i think you mean to say, "back when the trial started"

      There is no new evidence there ; the fbi already got their conviction and the author explains that he destroyed the originals. Also, i'm not sure of the arbitrary distinction between 'news' and 'web site'. It may be some justice department rhetoric but I'd want to see the case where a court substantially upheld a non-trivial difference between the two.

    • by Bill_Royle (639563) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:48PM (#8817402)
      There are a couple of things wrong here, which indicate that you've not read the article (and that the original poster got it a bit wrong.)

      First off, we knew we'd get subpoenaed, and were ready if that happened.

      Second, the notes aren't incriminating to Lamo beyond what some might find offensive regarding his personality (ie. giving someone money to help them get drugs.) If that's pretext for additional charges, we're all in trouble.

      Third, none of the the questions or the answers related to his crimes or hacks. What you see in the interview is the transcription of our interview, verbatim.

      Thus, under your criteria, prepare to be amazed.
  • Interview text (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bill_Royle (639563) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:38PM (#8817280)
    Here's the interview, folks... we've been /.'ed before, but never at this magnitude. The server op is working to get things evened out, but in the meantime here is the text:

    When did you get started getting interested in security online?

    "That'd depend on how you define started, I guess. My first exposure to computers was my Dad's Commodore 64 when I was six or seven, and as you may have read somewhere, I was interested in making things work differently than the way they were intended - loading, then inputting it and using the list command to see all of the code contained within it to see what the hell I was supposed to do with this blind corner that didn't seem to go anywhere."

    What kind of games?

    "Text-based adventure, like Zork-style."

    What moved you to move from disk-based security to a larger scale type of interest?

    "To me there's never been that much of a differentiation, in the sense that what I do is less about a particular methodology of technology that's applicable to some technology but not applicable to others. And more about seeing things differently - seeing things that people see everyday, but seeing them in a way that they never saw, that people who created them never intended them to be seen. To see them, to see what is around them and make them more as the sum of their parts and in doing so cause them to operate in a way that was never intended, expected or even thought possible."

    Have you always done this type of thing alone, or do you prefer doing it in a team of other people?

    "I've always worked alone pretty much. I will occasionally give pointers, but I very much believe that nobody should look at me as an example to be followed - in the sense that if there's anything that I've done, it's... occupied a space in our world that previously was not occupied. And if there's anything that I can say to anybody that is considering starting out on their own, it's to do something that nobody before them has done. And as such, if I was to really try to unduly influence anybody's path, even by working with them, I'd think that I'd be being untrue to the nature of what I do."

    There was a question on the site from someone asking if there were any "schools" or any places to become a "pro hacker." Do you have any suggestions as to where people could go or what you suggest for people who were interested in being an enthusiast?

    "The mean streets of Washington D.C. on two dollars a day. Surviving on that - that's a hack."

    What was your favorite city in terms of your travels?

    "I don't think I have one particular favorite. I have strong affinities to DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco and probably Sacramento, as well as Pittsburgh."

    You've been referred to as the "homeless hacker," or "helpful hacker." What started you on the road? Did you have to leave your home against your will - did your parents kick you out or was it something you chose to do?

    "No, my parents have always been very good to me. They've always been there for me, no matter what, and they're really great people. When I was seventeen or so, they moved to Sacramento."

    Did you like her? Was she a good mom?

    "Yeah, she's a great mom. How many moms would stand on the doorstep of a home and tell the FBI "thou shalt not pass," essentially?"

    She had said that she wished that you would do something something that everyone would see as positive. Is there any sort of discontent between your family and you when it comes to this field, or is it something you're moving past now?

    "The family's in some hard financial straits right now. In many ways I think they don't see what I do as I see it, and certainly not be involved in that respect. They, I believe, view it (computing) more as a hobby and don't really understand, and it seemed to be much closer to being about religion for me."

    A
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:38PM (#8817282)
    I can't get to the interview, but the wired article seems to imply this guy is just a script kid. Basically it sounds like he's doing the modern day equivalant of war dialing.

    He gets the press coverage because he's "homeless", but doesn't fit the alcoholic loser bum image of most homeless people. People like hearing such stories because it gives them hope that all the homeless (or more accurately, bums) might be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Total bullshit of course, but it makes for good copy.
  • overrated. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dan2550 (663103) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:40PM (#8817311) Homepage
    I dont mean to flame or anything, but im not to impressed by Lamo. he did some crazy things, but any lucky script kiddie could do the same. besides the fact that he was a meth addict, his "hacker skills" consist of using a web browser to snoop in unprotected directorys. In fact, he does not even know c++ or java.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      i agree. i don't find his little "i talked with a heroin addict kid" interesting either. people have been in a lot more interesting city situations. fuck this idiot.
    • Re:overrated. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pimpin apollo (664314)
      I agree. I think it's a wired article that portrays him in less than favorable terms. The spin, on both sides, of this case is remarkable. It would be more so if it wasn't so common in these kinds of cases. We should be more careful however about making these guys into martyrs. IMHO there haven't been very honest accounts of this case outside of basic facts.

      or maybe the guy just rubs people the wrong way
    • by iminplaya (723125)
      In fact, he does not even know c++ or java.

      Well, if that's not a good enough reason to lock him up, I don't know what is. Just for that they should tack on another 5 years.
      • In fact, he does not even know c++ or java.

        Well, if that's not a good enough reason to lock him up, I don't know what is. Just for that they should tack on another 5 years.


        Do _what_? Personally, I think they should take time off of his sentence for not knowing C++ or Java. That's a merit, not a flaw!
    • Re:overrated. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by adamruck (638131) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:54PM (#8818385)
      The fact that he wasn't trained and isn't skilled impresses me all that much more. Instead of relying on highly technical methods to gain access to things... he relyed on his sharp perception to notice security holes. The plain fact is that most people including me and you cant do that. He sees things in completely different ways than we do, thats what makes him smart.

      Wether you like lamo or what he did is up to you, but I think it would be foolish to not understand that what he did was impressive.
      • Re:overrated. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Vellmont (569020)

        The fact that he wasn't trained and isn't skilled impresses me all that much more.


        Are you also impressed when people are able to try a hundred differed different doors and find one that's open? He's not a genious, he's not overly impressive, it's just that security in big corps sucks. It almost has to when you have to let in hordes of people. There's tons of people that "aren't trained" that figure out how to do things. They aren't geniouses, they just don't require hand-holding.


        The plain fact
    • Re:overrated. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      how does one story about doing meth equate to meth addiction? dont lie and you say you didnt mean to flame...
    • I dont mean to flame or anything, but im not to impressed by Lamo. he did some crazy things, but any lucky script kiddie could do the same.

      There is a difference between being able to something and actually doing it (like, ever heard of the Egg of Columbus [wikipedia.org]?

      Just because something is easy to do doesn't make it automatically unimpressive. Only one point where he differs of all the ones I could list: How much of all the script kiddies out there are helping to fix the holes they have found?

      I don't mean to say
  • The links in the article as posted do not work. The destination server appears to be offline.
  • by Otter (3800)
    Just judging from this interview and the other things people have linked here, he comes across as a someone with mental problems but smart and relatively functional. If that's the case, hopefully he'll get some help in prison. Making him into some sort of hero isn't going to do him any good in the long run.

    Also, hopefully, Roblimo's not going to line him up for one of his "Hey, everybody, let's laugh at the mental case!" interviews. Thankfully we haven't had one of those in quite a while.

    • I met him in person and talked for a few minutes, then again several times over IM. He doesn't come across as having "mental problems", just different priorities. I would draw a comparison and say he's somewhat like other very gifted, but misunderstood people, but that would probably be too grandiose.

      Why not just take him at his word? He doesn't see things like other people do. That's how he describes himself, and it seems like the most accurate characterization to me.
      • He doesn't see things like other people do

        I know this is supposed to be "a good thing", but Ted Kazinski didn't "see things like other people did", and neither does anyone who's schizophrenic.

        He's no Unabomber, and he's not schizo, but not "seeing things like other people do" isn't something that should be considered a universal good. Let's face it, he gets press because he's homeless. Homeless people get sympathy value in the press, especially when big corps like the NYT are pitted against them. The

  • Well... sentencing has been delayed until June so I'm sure it was worthwhile waiting all this time to release the interview.

    p
  • Exclusive interview? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:45PM (#8817365)
    It remains his only interview since being arrested.

    Except for all the others...

    http://www.securityfocus.com/news/6934
    http://w ww.wired.com/wired/archive/12.04/hacker_pr .html
    http://news.com.com/2100-7348_3-5135351.htm l
    http://www.internetweek.com/story/showArticle.j htm l?articleID=17300322
    http://www.wired.com/news/in fostructure/0,1377,618 31,00.html
    http://www.2600.com/offthehook/2003/09 03.html
    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/ c/a/2003/ 09/22/BUGR11R7L91.DTL
    http://marketplace.publicra dio.org/shows/2004/04/0 7_mpp.html
  • by zapp (201236) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:01PM (#8817569)
    Every time i hear bout this Adrian Lamo guy, I get excited thinkin its the Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima [google.com], only to realize its just this loser :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Give a shit?

    Seriously, this guy is just craving attention. Homeless hacker my ass. Maybe if he actually tried to make something of his life or contribute to society I could give a shit. But he has done nothing for the real 'hacker' community.. stop giving hackers a bad name and refer to him as homeless 'criminal' please.
    • I give a shit, actually.

      Maybe if he actually tried to make something of his life or contribute to society I could give a shit.

      He is contributing to society, numbnuts. He's finding security holes and then telling the companies about them. He's helping people. Just because he's not getting paid for it doesn't make him some sort of bum. It makes him generous and caring. Sure, it was illegal to do it without permission, but he's not giving hackers a bad name. If anything, he's helping to improve the view ma
  • Good interview, but talk about spacy. That kid is way out in the ether.
  • And the hacker community loses a little more ground with this... "Hacker" is already common public usage for what some others who wear that name [catb.org] would rather call "cracker"; how long before it crowds even farther?

    Doesn't help that the two opposing groups both lay claim to the same name.
    • Or do you know anybody who does? Do you refer to the geek community. If so, you realize, you are talking about drinking chicken blood. Yes that is the origional definition of "geek". Do you want to argue that that isn't what it means anymore? If so you have a double standard, some words can change in meaning, others can't.

      English is a live language, words change meaning constantly. Instead of trying to go against the public's view of the definition of a word, use words that mean what the audience wi

  • by twigles (756194) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:26PM (#8817883)
    If you break the law shut up about it. Seriously, people bend and break laws all the time. Good, honest people. They cheat a little on their taxes, they don't stop all the way at stop signs, maybe they visit a prostitute occasionally.

    No one really cares until:
    1) The problem becomes extreme - instead of going 5 miles/hour over the speed limit you go 25 over.
    2) You trumpet your illegalities all over the place.

    If a sysadmin at the NY Times had received a discreet phone call from Lamo they would have had the option to ignore the whole situation and just quietly fix the problem. Instead they got a phone call from a reporter who was about to write a news piece on how this guy broke into their network.

    I'm not saying that they were right, just that it's understandable and Lamo shot himself in the foot with his lack of discretion. I learned this same lesson in high school when I wrote a creative writing paper that was so bloody offensive that I had to have a conference with my parents, the principle, the teacher and the school psychologist. My teacher told me in private that he wouldn't have done anything but make me re-write the paper but since I showed it to a bunch of people (whose parents called in) he had no choice.
  • Look guys just remember that if you 'break in' to a computer system and use its search system to the tune of $300000 (even though its not actually costing the victim much except an annoyence) your gonna go down like the bad ass terrorist-criminal you are and i dont wanna meet you in a dark ally! On the other hand if you just stick to minor crimes like assult and maybe carrying a concealed weapon, a little bit of theft and the odd speeding at 150 down the road past a school at home-time, you'll only get a li
  • I'm confused (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CrayzyJ (222675) on Friday April 09, 2004 @04:02PM (#8819366) Homepage Journal
    "we met the next weekend near his home"

    Neat trick given he was homeless.

  • by EconomicRat (696360) on Friday April 09, 2004 @04:46PM (#8819914) Homepage
    I find it baffling how anyone can consider Lamo's non-malicious acts of security audits grounds for incarceration. If I were responsible for the New York Times data network during Lamo's breach, in addition to being embarrassed, I most likely would have written him a check and engaged with him to tighten up the security holes (Obviously including the necessary agreements required to protect against the sale or use of the data he had access to).

    Had Lamo intended to act maliciously or engage without notice, he could have. So, the New York Times should be thankful that it was Lamo, walk-off the embarrassment, and throw this frivolous suit in the garbage can. The dollars allocated to the damage as a result of Lamo's activities are most likely "soft" costs. Specifically, the 300k associated to the LexisNexis activity, which is, most likely, an overvalued retail transaction price related to database queries, which fundamentally costs nothing. And, the 25k associated to the investigation efforts of the New York Times networking personnel, was really just a bad business decision. They could have just asked Lamo once he disclosed that he breached the network. I'm sure he would have provided the details. Additionally, those are, most likely, soft costs, as those resources used to perform the investigation were, most likely, New York Times network administration personnel doing what they do every day, well aside from reading Slashdot, and handling ID-10-T user errors.

    The "real" cash that was wasted on all the blood-sucking lawyers to file suit against Lamo, should have been used to tighten up the security on that New York Times network. But, maybe it's not too late. Maybe, the charges can be dropped, prior to sentencing, and Lamo is good-natured enough to still help the New York Times out. Because the possibility of being on the receiving end of hacker community retaliation is certainly not a place I would ever want to be!

    ER
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like he simply tweaked his browser settings a tad and got in, no cracking(I.E. A cracking program, overflow attack, etc.) involved. To me this is the NY-Times' fault more than anyone. Lamo doesn't have the skills or knowledge to actually crack a system...he trolls for people that don't know how to configure there settings properly. And it's not like the sites he gets into are small personal sites. MSN, NYTimes, etc..should all be ashamed that someone who has no rea
  • by jedi_odin (699590) on Friday April 09, 2004 @09:21PM (#8822151) Homepage Journal
    whether or not he could code? so what he didn't know java or c++, he did understand how networking worked, and how to use network components and the networks themselves against itself. I think that the fact that he couldn't code yet still showed the world that networks were vulnerable to persistant attacks of such intimate nature is important and should not be taken lightly. If he was a coder, just think about what he could have done. Was he a script kiddie? that all depends on the definition I guess, but some people want to call him b/c he used a webbrowser for his explorations. Wait, I use a webbrowser when I explore the internet, does that make me a script kiddie, does that make any and all browser users a script kiddie? Seriously, a coder could have done a lot more breakins, and bunch more "spectacular" and prolly would have been respected more, but who cares, the guy found a way in without needing to code; and that should be addressed. Also, obiviously the guy had a talent for understanding networks and the perserverance to get the job done. There are many other "crackers/hackers" like that, both convicted and not yet caught. People with such talent and perserverance should be learned from, not convicted and jailed to be sitting beside murderers and rapists. I think that picking the brains of such people would be a benefit to society, not locking them up in some shitty jailcell. I heard that Robert T. Morris was an assistant professor at MIT, damn I'd love to learn from him, I'd love to chit chat with Mitnick, Poulsen, and many others who have show us the weaknesses in comp and network security. These are the people to learn from, not those 3 week long IT boot-camps and mindnumbing professors who are so far up their own ass its pathetic. My former CS professor is a genius, very intelligent and inventive like these people were, and the humbleness he had and the willingness to teach rivals Yoda himself. If it wasn't for my former CS prof, I'd be dead in the water clueless. So we should accept the fact that we need to learn from hackers/crackers not just after the attack, but by conversing with them, working with them hand in hand, instead of sending some of our most inventive minds off to jail.

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