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Kevin Mitnick Free Today 396

Well, today is the day Kevin Mitnick is supposed to be released from prison. But many people feel sites like this one aren't obsolete quite yet, because it's hard for ex-cons to make their way in society, and it may be especially hard for Kevin because he isn't allowed to use computers - and that's what he's good at, right? A 60 Minutes interview with Kevin is scheduled to run this Sunday. Hemos comments, "One wonders if having a microphone near violates his Draconian parole computer restriction orders." An interesting - and scary - thought.
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Kevin Mitnick Free Today

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why did you say "that's what he's good at" with regard to computers?

    What he's good at is "social engineering" which is simply a form of deceit. Lieing to people to get information out of them. He's also good at various forms of physical theft, i.e. hauling off technical manuals from the phone company, using stolen credit card numbers, etc.

    None of this is the classic 'hacker skills' stuff that people in this community heap praise on. Instead, what Mitnick is good at is the stuff people here try to disassociate with the word 'hacker.' And yet some around here think he's some sort of hero.

    Go figure.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Kevin Mitnick VIOLATED the rights and freedoms of other in this country. For that he goes to jail. It is a very simple formula, break the law and go to jail. It is not like the laws are 'evil' either. This man is a disgrace, and should be locked up.

    $(1/50) contribution.
  • Ok we have had this discussion but let's make a point anyways.

    Rapists are in prison for a couple of years, and then when they get out, they are allowed to talk to women (or men whatever they did) when they get out too.
    Now Kevin went to prison for cracking into some systems. What's the use of not allowing him to use a computer anymore?
    As I hear (read) his special skill was social enigneering, so on that grounds he shouldn't be allowed to use a phone or even talk to people???

    Comon, FBI, US law system, whoever made the terrible mistake of putting him in jail without a trial, get a clue. Let him use computers and networks, it's his job!
    Catch him when (if) he ever does anything illegal, but not for using something I, and a lot of people are using legitimately for our job.


  • Posted by Synsthe:

    I haven't quite waded through the mire of posts on this topic yet, but I hope this gets a Score: 0, redundant, from all the others saying the same thing. This is slashdot though. :) I'm expecting all the posts to be one sided only.

    Anyway, on to the point. Who cares about "Draconian" parole regulations. If Kevin didn't want to have his life turned upside down, maybe the twit shouldn't have been out there doing as much illegally as he could on his computer.

    He deserved whatever he got, and he deserves whatever parole regulations he's on. If more people like him were to get what they deserved, ie, jail time, perhaps the vast majority of script kiddies and their peers would wake up and realize that they could be next.

    Correction, /should/ be next.

  • Um, I doubt anyone really expects him to avoid
    everything with an embedded processor. It's
    fairly clear that the terms of his parole are
    meant to keep him away from computing devices
    that can be used to repeat his crimes.
  • There's a substantial difference between telling me that I left the door open and between coming into my house, rifling through my personal belongings and maybe copying down anything you find interesting (maybe you jot down my VISA numbers, maybe you make a copy of the tape that I made with the wild romp I had with my girlfriend last night)

    If its the former I thank you and maybe buy you a beer. If its the latter I take out your knee caps with a tire iron to educate you on proper manners.

    Mitnik did the latter, you can't even pretend he was doing it over a concern for somebodies security. He never told his victims what he found.
  • Far be it from me to dwell on silly things like facts, but Mitnick is only prevented from using or owning cell phones or computers without the consent of his parole officer. []
  • Okay, so as long as your evesdropping on your roommate's phone conversation is kept a secret, it's not intrusive, disruptive, or wrong.

    You: 1, Strawman: 0.

    I didn't see a claim that it wasn't intrusive, disruptive, or wrong, only that it was more properly categorized as trespassing or invasion of privacy, rather than theft or vandalism. It's that claim that I agree with.

  • The fact is that : if you leave your front door open, and someone walks in, is that considered breaking and entering??

    No, just entering. But were their doors open? I'm not familiar with the details, but I'd guess he picked some weak locks in order to open the doors. I don't think that makes him responsible for the cost of better locks, but unless they were running a telnet daemon and had no root password, I couldn't consider it an open door.

  • Would he make an interestin (paper-based) Slashdot Interview?
  • What about bringing down a whole company and sending the employees to the streets?
    What about leaving people without the medical care they paid?

    In an economic society, white-collar crimes can be crimes against life or life conditions.
  • Paper and pencil, telephone, tape recorder, sign language in video,...
  • Err..., it didn't down on me that maybe he can do it over the phone.
  • You are correct. What makes this case so scary is that it's not even how much money a company loses, but really how pissed they are at the accused. KM didn't actually cause millions of dollars of damage, but he revealed extemely embarassing security holes, causing Sun to retaliate against him by saying that he caused a loss the maximum amount of money they could get away with before anybody called BS. And the prosocutor took them at their word.

    That's scary. Especially since many of the times that I would consider breaking the law justifiable involve pissing off large corporations!
  • you might not see this, and you might not care, but my comment was based on the final sentancing based down by the judge after his conviction. i think his probation terms may have changed afterwards, though.

    the amazing bc
    latin/funk flugelhorn & trumpet
    webnaut, music junkie, sysadmin from hell
  • Your last comment bugs me the most so I'll start their:

    >And, I'm sorry, but /. shouldn't be interviewing >convicted felons.

    Why not? That is a ridiculous. I thought the whole point of gaol was for rehabilitation (well that is the idea here in Australia anyway). Surely if he has been released then the courts believe he is ready to go back into society.

    He seems perfect for a slashdot interview. He seems like an interesting person. Would have some intereresting 'insights' after serving 5 years in prison. Might actually be a deterent to those crackers out there to here how shit life in prison is. Didn't slashdot interview l0pht a while back? Surely Kevin is just as worth of an interview as they are.

    Now to my second comment:

    Sorry, Kevin, you're just going to have to go be
    something other than an IT worker. That still leaves lots open. And plenty of non-menial jobs, too.

    Whilst this is true, try and think of one where a computer isn't involved? Dcotor? scratch. Lawyer? scratch. Engineer? scratch. Mathemtician? scratch. Business? scratch. Secretary? scratch. Shop Assistant? scratch.

    Come nearly every job these days require some computer interaction. Both my parents use computers and there job isn't at all IT related (Travel Agent and Nurse). My uncle uses a computer and he is in the army. For fsck sake my grandfather uses a computer and he is a farmer.

    There really aren't going to be that many jobs available for him.

  • Incorrect. This usage is considerably older than Linux.

    If you're going to flame, check your fscts first. ;-)
  • It is my personal opinion, based upon the released information, that the feds, bunch of scaredy-ass obnoxious no-nothings at certain major corporations, and a corrupt and deliberately ignorant legal system conspired to heave-ho Mr. Mitnick down a major shaft.

    I agree w/jmr, Goldstein, etc - it could happen to anyone. Furthermore, with current trend towards increasing the number of ways to run afoul of the law during the commission of everday life, I predict it will happen to everyone.

    To the petulant fascist ninnies who seem to be whining "he broke the LAW! Screw up the rest of his life!" - a policy of marginalizing everyone who runs afoul of bad laws and bad law enforcement is ultra-foolish! Especially since there's no way left to vote with your feet on this planet. Which do you think is better for society - permanenently stigmatizing even the slightest of infractions (thus marginalizing the infractor), or respecting the premise of repaying one's debt to society? We all have to live together on the same planet - what is the logical outcome of marginalizing people like Mitnick?

    I'm voting with my checkbook (again!) - my lunch money today goes to one of those Mitnick accounts as my stick-a-finger-in-the-eye-of-the-feds gesture de jour.

    I limit it to lunch money because there's still plenty of evidence of Mitnick's ethical shortcoming (even though truth will never out because of the dishonesty of the prosecution), and I'm also sure there exist feds who are honest enough to focus their efforts on honest-to-badness social predators.
  • "And, I'm sorry, but /. shouldn't be interviewing convicted felons."

    I disagree... /. should be interviewing whomever /.ers want interviewed (who will agree to submit to it, of course) If the majority of people on /. want hitler interviewed, there should be made at least a token gesture in that direction.

    and lastly, invoking an ancient usenet law concerning the introduction of hitler into any particular discussion, i now declare this thread dead.

  • ABC news reported this story as well, and also had a poll asking whether hackers should go to jail if

    A: If they steal info for profit
    B: If they steal info but don't use it
    C: Both
    D: Neither

    A large majority of about 73% voted "C" !

    Tho it was not a scientific poll, this is pretty scary IMO.

    Demanding punishment for theft is scary? Not in my book.

    Theft is theft, whether's it through classic methods (shoplifting, breaking and entering, etc) or through more modern froms (cracking, computer/wire fraud). This "not for money" argument doesn't cut it with me and shouldn't cut it with the law.

    Also, on good old Kevin, no matter how much people whine, he got off easy. He is no better than any run-of-the-mill burgler. Period.

  • What looking for an orafice large enough to store a palm v?

    Sorry I couldnt resist.
  • Similar to Randy Schwarz's case with Intel?
  • This post dose kinda illistrate what people think of Unix, and computers and our cracker friend here...
    People make it sound like he came close to causing the colapse of civilaisation as we know it... He is the Y2K bug incarnet... everyone thinks the world will end becouse of him but he's accually harmless.. Yet annoying... Just like the Y2K scare..
    How many people have rooted Windows? Windows dosn't have a root account... That dosn't mean you can not take controll of Windows.. You just do it diffrently.. Thats probably why crackers call it "owning" not "rooting" becouse you CAN "own" a Windows computer.. just not "root" it..
    Now add the minnor diffrence between "rooting" and "owning" to all the other strangeness of computers...
    If they don't see a CRT, keyboard and mouse they think it's not a computer... They don't realise how often they themselfs come into contact with computers today...
    They also don't realise how trival his hacks were vs the really extream efforts of corprate theafs.
    People will pay security guards huge amounts of money to deliver some company secret. The kind of secrets he got with a simple phone call...
  • OK, I'll take you up on that. I have a SERIOUS problem with how the judicial system treats violent criminals. They let them live.
  • I don't think that the point of Kevin's case has ever been whether he was guilty, wrong, or deserved to be punished. The point has always been that Kevin has been persecuted (Yes, I mean that in the literal sense) basically for being an embarrassment to the federal government. Let's look at what has happened to Kevin over the last 5 years. He has been incarcerated in maximum security federal penitentiaries. He has been housed with dangerous criminals who have committed REAL crimes (ie: violent crimes like rape and murder), he has been denied access to the evidence to be presented against him in court, he has been denied a diet that meets his health needs, and he has been denied proper and adequate medical care. He has been accused of causing outrageously inflated amounts of damages to companies that really suffered nothing more than humiliation at how poor their security was. Now he has finally been released after 5 years in prison without bail and without speedy trial and been told that he cannot get a job in the field that he knows best and would be best able to support himself in. Where exactly is the justice in our justice system? People who kill other people while driving drunk or rape other people get lighter sentences than Kevin did. Also, when was the last time you heard of a Wall Street white collar criminal (who probably cheated thousands of people out of millions of dollars) who spent a *single* hour in a maximum security federal prison? The only monetary damages that Kevin was truly guilty of was making free cellular phone calls. Does he deserve to deal with 5 years of humiliation and abuse at the hands of our justice system and to have this humiliation and abuse continued after he has served his time (more time than he deserved IMHO) over the price of some cellular phone calls? No matter how conscientious you are, I know that you have broken some law at some point in your life. How would you like to serve, oh lets say 6 months in a maximum security pen for fornication and jaywalking? Think about it before you come off with the lame "He got what he deserved" crap. I've heard it from too many people.
  • Frankly, I think mitnicks ban from computers etc. is probably the equivalent of capital punishment. Prison is supposed to be about rehabilitation, not revenge.

  • why are they allowed to take it away from him ?

    what would happen if he said no ?

    that is impossible to avoid since many things

    have some type of microchip in them.
  • If someone has to be stopped from stalking someone, he is not allowed to get near that person. So a logical(!?) thing to do when someone has to be stopped from doing something nasty with computers would be to disallow him from getting near computers. But as already said, that's tricky. So what should be done?
    - No internet access?
    - No alphanumeric keyboard access?
    I think number 1 is reasonable, what do you think?

  • I really doubt that the circuitry in his microwave poses any real threat to the rest of the technological world.


    Are you kidding me? Look at what horrors can be wrought with a mere household microwave .. click
    here [].

  • The dates are correct for me. Maybe it's your javascript?
  • Check out (Internet Movie Database) for more info on Takedown... "post production" supposedly... So, the other artcle writer was right - "in the can" means physically, in the can... (the weird thing is, though... the "other recommendations" for this movie is the horrible-horror Scream... huh??)
  • ABC news reported this story as well, and
    also had a poll asking whether hackers should go to jail if

    A: If they steal info for profit

    B: If they steal info but don't use it

    C: Both

    D: Neither

    A large majority of about 73% voted "C" !

    Tho it was not a scientific poll, this is pretty scary IMO.

    (p.s. I submitted this as a story, but
    the link to the poll is broken and I can't seem to find the correct one again (damn @#$&% ANCBNEWS CGI!!), so I am posting this like this. Sorry for the confusion.).
  • Does every just completely ignore the fact that the guy was a common thief. Not just intelletctual property but breaking and entering, stealing chips, selling chips.

  • I see you had the same idea I had at the same time. ;)

    It didn't dawn on me that he can't do this over email. So is he allowed to have a friend or relative do email for him? Geeze, in todays world, no computers is a harsh sentence.

    Steven Rostedt
  • how would he secure a server? he hasn't touched a computer for 5 years. I'm sure he's still a security expert, but 5 years is a long time in computer years.

    Well I'm sure that he reads, and keeps up with the technology. What else would you do in jail? I wonder if he can still look at source code for operating systems and such. Paper form that is.

    but it would be alot more interesting to interview him in a month or two and get his perspective on the changes that have taken place in the last 5 years.

    Agreed, it would be interesting.

    Steven Rostedt
  • It isn't just Mitnick. The Melissa author also stands ready to be keelhauled. There are lots of people eager to lock 'em up and throw away the key but look at what Mitnick did and what he got. Then look at some of the sentences violent criminals are getting. It seems like nearly any offense gets 3-5 years. That doesn't make sense. In fairness, we either need to ease up on the Mitnicks or come down harder on violent criminals.

  • #2 Use a fscking spell checker! You're post was beyond atrocious

    That's "Your post" not "You're post".




  • He got caught doing something illegal and he's being punished. If you don't want to be an ex-con then don't break the law, what a concept. There were legal ways for Mitnick to practice his 'inquisitive mind', he could have got a job as a security consultant. He could even have donated his services as a security consultant to non-profit organizations if getting payed for it was somehow morally reprehensible to him.

    Sorry, I have no sympathy for him at all. Personally I wouldn't want him working in my company, he's already demonstrated not only a complete lack of trustworthiness but a surplus of stupidity by violating the terms of his probation.

    Let him serve fries at McDonald's, don't complain about the results of his own stupidity.
  • I happen to agree with C. My computer happens to be my personal property, I don't care if you broke in to steal something or if you broke in just out of curiosity. You broke in. If there was some way to prove that your intentions were good then my viewpoint might change, but you would be pretty hard pressed to prove to me that you a) did nothing malicious, b) had no malicious intentions and c) weren't pleading good intent just as a 'Get Out of Jail Free card'.

    If I want security advice I'll hire somebody for that advice. If there isn't some understanding between us (sure, break in, tell me how you got in and don't break anything) I will assume you had the worst possible intentions. I'd do the same if you appeared in my living room at night and told me "don't be alarmed, I'm just testing your security, by the way, your front door was locked".
  • The terms of his probation have been distorted by the media, both pro and anti-Mitnick. The terms are that he's not to touch or posess a computer or cellular phone without the written approval of his probation officer. [] So if his probation officer agrees to it he can work at McDonald's and even get to use the deep fryer or use the cash register.

    The media has manipulated everybody on this story. The general public has had Mitnick's abilities amplified to mythical status and the terms of his probation suitably magnified. The 'hacker' community has been led on by publications like 2600 to believe that he's been unfairly sentenced to a point where he can't possibly make a living or even pay back the 4000 dollars he owes as restitution.

  • I wonder if he can leave the US. Then I suppose that the US laws don't apply on him (but [FLAMEBAIT]ask the Cubans about Helms-Burton[/FLAMEBAIT]). At least in spirit, the goal is to keep this man off the US computers.
    Maybe he could work with computers somewhere else [FLAMEBAIT]in the free world[/FLAMEBAIT]. But what if he is given a telnet to the US?
  • I kinda wanted to see the story with a fistfight between Mitnick and Shimomura and everyone on rollerblades and constantly saying "What is the Matrix?")
  • the terms of it are that he can't use computer equipment with any kind of modem or network connection, can't use PC's or coporate computing equipment, etc. the real problem here is ATM machines, which use modem/network connections to connect back to the bank. i feel for him; i couldn't live without my ATM card. *grin* --bc
    the amazing bc
    latin/funk flugelhorn & trumpet
    webnaut, music junkie, sysadmin from hell

  • That sounds more like the strange case of Intel and Randal Schwartz. (Randal Schwartz is a big-time Perl hero and Intel is a large CPU manufacturer which employs at least one managers who has the strange ability to testify one week that he has examined pages of Perl and found security backdoors and then to testify two weeks later that he wouldn't recognize Perl from phonetic Swahili.)

    Find more details here [].


  • "It was no game to the man who was trying to catch him, Federal Prosecutor Chris Painter. "Millions of dollars in damages...conduct that caused these companies to shut down their networks...retool....That's not a prankster," says Painter.

    Is it really damages when a company was forced to do what they should have done all along, that is, secure their systems?

  • Why's that scary? If someone I didn't authorize to do so broke into my computers and just looked at the data, that's basically trespassing. I can't walk into your house and just leaf through your belongings and leave and expect that that's okay.

    Houses have locks for a reason. They're mostly symbolic though, because people can easily smash a window, chainsaw through a wall, climb down the chiminey, etc...

    Computers have passwords for the same reason. Yes, it's possible to circumvent them. It's also possible to find out what it is through social interaction. That's basically like somehow coming in contact with a key and making a wax dupicate of it.

    People keep saying here that if you don't want your computer broken into, then use a secure OS. That's bull. Or no, that's not bull. But a hacker/cracker/whatever should not expect to get off because the person or companies computer he broke into used Windows 98 or NT rather than OpenBSD.

    We know computers are not secure. Stop proving it by messing up webpages just for the sake of proving it, already.
  • >ask him a few questions, Like how he himself would secure a server. What OS is the most secure (in his opinion).

    how would he secure a server? he hasn't touched a computer for 5 years. I'm sure he's still a security expert, but 5 years is a long time in computer years.

    im not sure what kind of isolation tank they had him in, but it would be alot more interesting to interview him in a month or two and get his perspective on the changes that have taken place in the last 5 years. (THAT could be enlightening)

  • Lets face it computers are EVERYWHERE...
    There is NO WAY he can NOT come into contact with one.
    If he drives he has the cars onboard computer, cross the streat and the crosswalk is computer controlled.
    lets look at the streat lights... Maby you had to deal with street lights that went out of sync.. only 5 seconds to cross the road before you got ran over.. or worse the walk sign says "walk" before the cross traffic gets a red or the cross traffic gets a green and the walk sight still says "walk"... also issues of a fast "green yellow red" switch time causing accadents as well as times when ALL LIGHTS are green.
    Also many citys need to control the folow of traffic to prevent traffic jams.. It gets all complex and statistical and it's run by computer...
    So when you push that big "WALK" button.. Yep.. now can Keven do that? No..
    Walk into a store.. wops.. that security computer just scanned you to be shure your not walking out with stolen property (it dosn't know what direction your going).. computer....
    Now he comes near a point of sale terminal.. Computer.....
    TV Cable.... Apartment uses newer power indicator... UPS wants you to sign for a pacage..

    It'll take a volation for people to recognise what this means...
    If he can not come near a computer (if memory serves that was one of the requirements) he can not go outside...
    I'm using a Ricochet modem.. it works by sending signals vea short distence relays.. thies relays are small computers mounted on telephone polls(with citys permition)... He can not come into my city becouse we have those relays...

    Forget the Point of sell terminals for a moment... walk into a convence store and a bunch of the gadgets on sale are computers...

    My grandmother is a bit of a ludite.. she REFUSES to have a computer in her home.. so Kevens safe there right? Door bell and TV... thats all but thats enough...
    (Only one of the 2 TVs BTW.. The wide screen TV with all the neat features and digital cable box vs the older "solid state" TV).

    Her Microwave uses a macanical timer so he dosn't have to worry about that but many use imbeded computer systems...

    Even toys today use imbeded computers today...

    Might as well say he can't come near indoor plumbing...

    Now post 2 on this topic [a troll] also dose make an intresting point by example... People do not have any idea what this means... They see "Computer" and think Univac.. They forget the last 30 years of technology...
    I mean... consider this... He may not be free long... He's going it sit infront of a streaming video recording computer (profesional TV camra) and talk into a audio sample computer (A digital mike).... and not even know it....

    Finnaly I'd like to suggest that Keven saved them money... If he hadn't exploted the security defects someone else would have...
    But what he did was wrong.. no one asked him to find defects.. he was basicly waisting his time and tallent...
    Now what is he going to do? Sell his skill to someone who can use it? Like a REAL theaf?
    Becouse he can't do anything else..
  • Erm... How is he going to read your questions without using a computer ? Do you want to put him back in jail or something ;-)

  • ...on the definition of a computer in his case. Is a Palm allowed? What about a digital watch? A calculator? WebTV? (With a keyboard and a Java telnet client...)
  • What else would you do in jail?
    Prepare your defense. I understand that this is what Mitnick spent most of his time on.
  • OK, I'll take you up on that. I have a SERIOUS problem with how the judicial system treats violent criminals. They let them live.

    Hmm? I have a problem with judicial systems (or people for that matter) not realizing that killing is killing and really won't be anything other than a murder, no matter the side of the law and the circumstances.

  • If the term used by the judge is "computer," that is sufficiently vague for someone to claim Mitnick has violated it by driving a car. Vague laws (or judgements or decisions) are very easy to abuse. I see things twisted every week to say what the person WANTS it to say because there's just a tiny ambiguity.
  • If the terms of his parole only dictate that he can't interact with "a computer" then that can be abused by someone to say that his using a microwave oven violates his parole. Ambiguity in law is a very, very bad thing.
  • It's likely my arrest warrant would have been (gasp) actually signed by a man in a black dress.

    I agree with e-gold - I would be freaked out too if man in black drags are running around signing arrest warrants.

  • I'll bet his lawyers will win an appeal stating that with our technology rich society, not having access to the net is somehow perceived as cuel and unusual punishment.

    Oh please! You don't honestly believe that tripe you spit out do you? I mean amputation, vivasection, stoning, and burning all pale in compression to not being able to surf the net for nudie pics and get into IRC pissing contests.

    The majority of the people in the USA (and the vast majority of the world) isn't even on the the Internet. Are they being punished? No. Are they're lives somehow less? Not a chance. Are they not able to function in society, hold adequate jobs, or raise families? OF COURSE THEY CAN!

    If you believe that not having a cable modem running to you home somehow makes you less of a person you've been reading Wired and listening to Madison Avenue for too damn long.

    People here are saying: "Computers are everywhere! He violates his parole just walking across the street." Only fools don't know what the court meant by "computer". The judge meant PCs, Macs, workstations, servers, etc. In general anything that can reasonably be used as a cracking device. Use common sense people! When you hear someone say they're going to use the computer do really stop and thing, "Gee. I wonder if they're going to be using the CD player, or maybe the washing machine? No wait I got it! The digital alarm clock!" Trying to excalate an embeded microcontroller to the same level as the machine each and every one of you are using this very moment is a gross overstatment.

    Times like this make me ashamed of reading slashdot.
  • Sorry, but your sarcasm just doesn't work here. When bankers and traders break the law, they are routinely prohibited from working their profession for years after their release from prison. Doctors found to have been negligent can no longer practice medicine. Lawyers who commit crimes are disbarred. And this is a good thing.

    Just because you can't imagine life without a computer doesn't mean that it's not possible. I have nothing against Mitnick, but he's certainly not a saint, and doesn't special treatment. Give the man a broom -- that is, if you can find one without a built-in computer.
  • The fact is that : if you leave your front door
    open, and someone walks in, is that considered
    breaking and entering??

    Depending where you live, yes. In many jurisdictions today, the "breaking" element is treated only to mean crossing the "close," or the invisible border that represents the protectible property interest of the title-holder. Other jurisdictions still require the "breaking" element to require the tearing away or removal of a lock, or the like.

    But guess what? It doesn't much matter what the crime is called, entering without permission is still a crime. Merely entering or remaining without authority, license or express invitaiton, constitutes criminal trespass in many states. In Florida, entering or remaining in a dwelling with intent to commit an offense therein constitutes burglary, a first degree felony. If someone dies during the felony, that alone can be grounds for first degree murder!

    Is there any serious question whether the state proved to a unanimous jury beyond a reasonable doubt all the elements of the crimes with which Mr. Mitnick was charged and convicted? If so, let's talk particulars, in view of the particular statutes, and stop this bullshit about whether any wrong has been done or whether a straw man charge can be laid at the feet of some hypothetical individual.
  • From the AP, I can't really see how in this day of internet connected everything, he cannot be around anything that will connect him. I'll bet his lawyers will win an appeal stating that with our technology rich society, not having access to the net is somehow perceived as cuel and unusual punishment.

    Virtually nothing done by a modern state stands afoul of the Eighth Amendment. In view of judicial determinations that execution by an electric chair do not constitute cruel and unusual punishment, this argument doesn't pass the giggle test.

  • Umm, people on parole are normally not allowed to leave their city without asking for permission. Obviously they have to stay in their country...

    We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.
  • That means Kevin cannot go to a college. That's a great reason to appeal. As of not being able to leave the country... maybe China, Cuba will strike a deal with him and he can work there as a Net Warior against the US?
  • How is he going to read your questions without using a computer ?
    Print them out on paper, give him a typewriter for writing his responses. Or even a dedicated word-processor.

    I have no idea how much judicial review there is for parole-board actions, but if they are subject to injunction or appeal this may be a way to give the government a black eye. If Kevin is willing to try something like the word-processor thing and the government jumps on him, having them reversed on First Amendment grounds would look very bad for the parole board. It would also put legal handcuffs on future parole boards; once there's a decision saying that such tactics are an abuse of a parolee's civil rights, they can't even use the threat again.

  • The problem with that is that he'd have to write his decisions in longhand, and I'm sure that OSHA would have something to say about the ergonomics of his workstation and repetitive stress injuries resulting therefrom.
  • In the can means that a film has been shot and is being held off for various reasons. The reference being to the physical film being stored in a film can. This can basically mean at any stage, but most likely pre-editing. Many movies are "in the can" because post-production is so costly and the time is spent soliciting money to get the film back on its feet.

  • Just days after Kevin Mitnick got sent back to jail for using an atm several strange events occured.....

    A guy begging for a cup of coffee got a dollar instead from a friendly stranger. He was subsequently arrested and put to jail for life. Reason? He was a convicted bank robber no longer allowed to come near money.

    Another guy was found just outside his house frozen to death in a snowstorm. Apperently the man was an ex-burglar who wasn't allowed to touch doors.

    An old lady got the shock of her life when a woman fell on the street out of nowhere just in front of her. The woman was convicted of several traffic offenses and she was apperently using the roofs of buildings to get to her appartment cause she was no longer allowed to come near roads.

    On a more positive note, the traffic in the newsgroup alt.people.armed-robbers is rapidly increasing. This is mainly attributed to the fact that more and more armed robbers may no longer come near people and as such must seek their social contacts elsewhere.

    And I thought chopping of a thiefs hand was medieval......
  • The difference here is in details,
    not being able to practice your profession is bad but justifiable in the cases you name. But should a dokter be prohibited to use knives?
    prohibiting mitnick to use computers is similar to a dokter not allowed to use metal tools. He should have been prohibited to use computers for software development and programming. That would be stopping him from practicing his profession. Now the justice department is stopping a guy who probably has a lot of on-line friends (despite what he's done to them) to communicate with those friends.
    That is definitely draconian.

    And that is where my sarcasm was aimed at.
  • It worries to see people paint Kevin Mitnick as some kind of hero. This guy knowingly broke the law, repeatedly. Slash dotters are known for their love of freedom. However, true freedom comes with responsibility. Responsibility for ones own actions. Living within the framework of the law is part of freedom. It is there to protect your rights. No countries laws are perfect. Infact they are often far from it. In this particular case you may disagree with the sentencing. That's up to you, but that is a seperate issue. Making a hero of Mitnick will only result in other gullable people following the same course of stupidity and beleiving they are "cool" when "fool" would be a better description. This bloke's life in now a mess but just remember who really messed it up. Himself. He thought he was invincible but he was caught!! I for one do not feel sorry for him.

    P.S. You can learn a whole lot about computing, networking, security etc without having to infringe on the rights of others!

    (That great crashing noise you just heard was me falling of my soap box)
  • It's gonna be a bitch to debug his code ;)
  • I feel that everyone is taking the "all computers" to an extreme. Judging by the rest of the sentence, "all computers" would actually suggest that they mean "all personal computers". He isn't very well going to crack the cash register at the Kwik-E-Mart, and I really doubt that the circuitry in his microwave poses any real threat to the rest of the technological world. Everyone simply needs to realize that this judgment was most likely passed down by a less techno-savvy individual than those of us who frequent /., and should therefore be taken with a grain of salt.

  • I'm not sure where you heard that. It might have been part of what happened, but Mitnick was arrested for breaking into several systems not owned by him or his employer, and running from the feds for some time. He is most certainly a criminal, but I don't believe he was treated fairly by the justice system.
  • What if Kevin moved to Europe ?
    Is he allowed to leave the US at all and if so, what if he took up a job accross the atlantic, would the arms of the upholders of US law stretch that far ? I seriously can't imagine that to be the case. They're _craving_ for good people over here in Europe, and should one get lonely, there's always the 'net. These parole computer restriction orders seem like an exercise in futility for inhabitants of the global village that is the 'net.
  • That's why his sentence was harsh, IMHO. I seriously worry about this free-market economy in which we are all a part when crimes are measured by the amount of financial harm done, rather than measured by how much humanity or society was in danger. It seems that for murder, (unless the trash press get ahold of it) you can expect to do your time and be out in 20 years, but here, we're denying basic rights way after this poor sod's got out of jail, simply because of the amount of money he allegedly cost a corporation, trying to fix holes in their computer security that shouldn't have been there in the first place!

    My hangover's clearing now.... I needed that rant.
  • Kevin will be on parole for the next three years I believe. During that time he will have to check in with his parole officer, more than likely face to face, which would rule out the possibility of moving anywhere. It appears that he will be moving in with his father and attempting to attend college, seeking a special waiver for limited use of computers so that he can write his papers (from CNN story []).
  • Terms of his probation require that for the next three years Mitnick keep his hands off all computers, software, modems, cell phones, Internet-connected televisions and any other electronic devices that would give him access to the Internet.

    From the AP, I can't really see how in this day of internet connected everything, he cannot be around anything that will connect him. I'll bet his lawyers will win an appeal stating that with our technology rich society, not having access to the net is somehow perceived as cuel and unusual punishment.

    Never knock on Death's door:

  • Yah,

    This is a good example of what "justice" really is.

    And this is just one case, though high profile.

    Other areas, where there are probably people in jail, in your own county even, that is just is bad, is the handling of Child Support in this country. If you get laid off, and can't find work quick, well, you'll lose your drivers license. When you get back to work, they'll take large %s of your pay til it's caught up, and still threaton you with jail.. If you don't get caught up, well, welcome to bubba.

    The constitution is violated in many areas of law now. Ramsie Electronics was another example.

    And it's not just the MONEY.. A lot of this comes from special interests. The support laws are based on propaganda from a "Womans" organization that has long since been proven wrong.

    And Ramsy, where they just happened to be a victim of political getbacks.. Yet Radio Shack hasn't been raided yet..

    take the power back
    Eric A. Griff
  • I dont know the specifics of the Kevin Mitnick case, and I wont even attempt to dispute the guilt of either the defense or the prosecution. I just want to know, why is punishment being extended beyond the time served? Why is it that American's (who I am one of) will stand by their rights and Constitution, but at the same time will deny those rights to others if they feel threatened by them? Yes Mitnick commited a crime and was found guilty, but once he serves the time, he should be free to live his life. I guess this is a wide spread problem as sexual offenders can never be truely free once convicted. The thing to think about though is, if you keep a computer hacker from computers for fear of future crimes, why are murderers allowed access to people?
  • Okay, so as long as your evesdropping on your roommate's phone conversation is kept a secret, it's not intrusive, disruptive, or wrong. Sure.

    The bottom line is, he broke the law. No social status should allow anyone to get off the hook.

    As far as the punishment goes, I think it fit the crime. He broke in to a computerized system and nosed around. The punishment should, in my opinion, have something to do with limiting his access to computerized systems like the ones that he used to break the law in the first place.

    I also agree that in this day, zero computer access/use is almost impossible. However, there are people in the world (and even in the US) who funcion very well without Internet access (an inconceivable notion to some /. readers ;)

    On the other hand, if the assigned punishment was too harsh, what should it have been? I don't think there would be an easy way to regulate computer access on a daily basis or something.

    Sometimes, it's better to give a little harder kick as a warning to discourage further actions.

  • So, Mitnick is not to be allowed near a computer again. How about the DoJ not letting Microsoft go near a web browser ?
  • What is your opinion on Lewiz Depayne? Have you heard of Lew's online business []? (Note to the reader: this site is REALLY Lew's business)
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Friday January 21, 2000 @02:50PM (#1352765)
    Well, I personally am not that interested in Mitnick himself, but the various factors surrounding his imprisonment and trial do interest me quite a bit.

    He spent four years in jail without being convicted of a crime. This is partially because his lawyer was forced to waive his rights to a speedy trial. There were several million pages of evidence presented by the government, and Mitnick was given one part-time lawyer (whom the court refused to pay extra to give him more time to sift through the pile of evidence) and extremely limited access to a law library (and no access to computers). If he didn't waive his rights to a speedy trial, he'd have to waive his right to a fair trial. Forcing him to give up one or the other of his constitutional rights is obviously not something that should be allowed.

    The damages claimed by the various companies also raises the issue of the financial cost of piracy, an issue discussed on slashdot in the past in other stories. Several companies claimed that since Mitnick obtained the source code to their operating systems and software, they had sustained a loss equal to the entire cost of development of the software and any future projected sales. This is obviously extremely innacurate (but common practice among the various anti-piracy groups). There's also the interesting fact that these millions of dollars of supposed losses were not reported to stockholders, as required under SEC regulations.

    Finally, there's the issue of computer-use restrictions on parole. Many people, including myself, feel that these are wrong, and certainly counter-productive. Rather than keeping him from engaging in computer-related crime again, they will be more likely to remove his chances for employment and force him into crime to make money. His skills are computer-related, and even if he were to go for a job that wasn't directly computer-related, nearly all jobs these days use computers in one way or another.

    Anyway, these, and some other assorted reasons, are why I, and I suspect many other slashdotters, care about Mitnick, despite the fact that he's a relatively uninteresting hax0r d00d in and of himself.
  • by logicTrAp ( 2864 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @06:01AM (#1352766) Homepage
    I'm no Mitnick expert, but didn't his lawyer waive his right to a speedy trial?
  • by Seth Golub ( 3326 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @03:41AM (#1352767) Homepage
    He believes what he did was "a gross invasion of privacy" but not stealing.

    I think this is an excellent point of view. Lots of private information can be exploited for profit, but the acquisition of it is not necessarily theft.

    Millions of dollars in damages?conduct that caused these companies to shut down their networks?retool?

    By this logic, if I inform someone that their house is on fire, I should be charged with arson.

  • by The Dodger ( 10689 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @05:09AM (#1352768) Homepage

    What happens if he goes to a different country? Will he be allowed to travel outside the US? What happens if he uses a computer in, say, the UK, and then returns to the United States?

    I want to offer him a job. ;-)

    D. for Dodging the Law!

  • long as he doesn't use a computer to do it? I'm just curious since I remember seening a book containing a complete printout of the 2.2.5 linux kernel last time I was over in Border's. For a guy who had developed such a "penchant for cracking systems in search of proprietary source code," wouldn't it be just great to see some Mitnick-contributed code to the linux kernel? (Perhaps regarding security...) Afterall, the article clearly identifies Mitnick as a "Hacker"... (c: --Cycon
  • by kerouac ( 18850 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @04:06AM (#1352770)
    Whether you consider him to be a script kiddie punk, or a political martyr, the fact remains that the man has been incarcerated longer than some who are sentenced for rape, kidnapping, agrravated assault, battery, grand theft auto...

    Surely I wasn't the only one in this thread that remembers hearing WGO radio giving thier 'Mitnick
    Manhunt Updates', and thought something like,
    "What if that was me?".


    Hey Kevin, let me buy you your first beer in four years. It's the least I can do.
  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @08:21AM (#1352771)
    Isn't that kind of like telling a con-man who used fake ID to con people that he may not use an ID or a razor blade, ever?
    Or a B&E artist that he may not posess a crowbar, hammer, or any rope?
    Or... a white-collar money launderer that he can't have any money?
    Or... well, the list goes on.
    The exception, of course, is guns... but we, as a society, prevent those who committed 'violent' crimes with guns from being allowed to legally posess guns, as they have demonstrated that they are a threat. A *violent, life-endangering threat*
  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @04:28AM (#1352772) Journal
    Many things you might not consider today constitute theft under state law. In particular, Kevin's own analogy, "joyriding" is, at least here in Florida, theft. Likewise the use of computers in various ways to manipulation of information legally constitutes theft. As does the use or disclosure of trade secrets of another.

    Not for years has the legal definition of theft been limited to the "taking and asportation of personal property of another with the intent to deprive permanently." Modern statutes have liberalized or deleted virtually every element of the crime, largely because of hypertechnical arguments used by criminals to avoid justice.

    Many words have both common and legal meanings, that may differ. Such differences, even if present, do not factor into whether the man is a criminal. By his own words, he was "like James Bond." Great, so instead of being a mere thief, he committed a capital crime!

    So, this "argument" is really down to p.r. or sophistry. Sure, it may not be Kevin-Theft, or Slashdot-Theft, whatever those words might mean but if it is Legal-Theft (read the statutes) guess what? He goes to jail and deals with his probation.

    For my part, this man's conduct was both wrongful and illegal, whatever it might have been called. He has not manifest great insight or technical skill in his admittedly routine cracking. He has offered nothing of value to the society which he has harmed. And so, he has done nothing to justify the martyrdom status bestowed upon him, and reflects poorly upon us all.
  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @06:59AM (#1352773) Homepage
    In modern life, computers are _everywhere_. Even a digital watch has a 4bit computer, probably more powerful than an IBM 1130.

    Telephones, TVs, elevators, cars, ATMs, POS, VCRs, CD players and the list goes on. Even fastfood joints use computerised cooking equipment. Oddly, an old reel-to-reel tape recorder has no computer, so Kevin could use one to reprogram credit card magnetic strips. So maybe he shouldn't use credit cards either. If he could even get one.

    Now the Judge probably didn't mean to prohibit these devices, or even know that they could be considered computers. But Parole Officers have a bad reputation for capriciousness, especially with high-profile parolees they want to take down a peg-or-two. So Kevin will have to watch is back, perhaps worse than in prison.

    -- Robert
  • by adamk ( 67660 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @04:51AM (#1352774)

    Yes we all fuck up at some time in our life, but we don't all blatantly break the law like he did.

    Trying to excuse his behaviour because he was addicted is like excusing a drunk from holding up a liquor store because he's an alcoholic. It just doesn't fit.

  • by g051051 ( 71145 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @03:49AM (#1352775)
    Why should we be interested in this guy? He's a cracker, and a pretty poor one at that.

    He's the computer equivalent to the shaking junkie who sticks a gun in the face of a 7-Eleven clerk to get money for a fix, then waves to the security camera on the way out. He left a trail a mile wide, and couldn't stop his illegal activities even when he knew the authorities were after him.

    Why is he being portrayed as some kind of Digital Martyr?
  • by guran ( 98325 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @03:41AM (#1352776)
    the "Free Kevin" site said
    "Kevin Mitnick has been imprisoned by the U.S. Government for:
    4 years, 11 months, 6 days, 12 hours, 12 minutes, 55 seconds

    Kevin Mitnick will be released from prison in:
    11 months, 30 days, 19 hours, 14 minutes, 8 seconds"

    Y2K bug still alive and well huh?

  • by Roblimo ( 357 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @04:08AM (#1352777) Homepage Journal
    Can't hurt to try. ;-) I'll write to Kevin's grandmother - who seems to be his point of contact with the outside world - and ask.

    Thanks for the idea.

    - Robin "roblimo" Miller
  • that Kevin won't be able to read...
  • by transiit ( 33489 ) on Thursday January 20, 2000 @11:23PM (#1352779) Homepage Journal

    ZDNet's got a Kevin Poulsen-written article on the Mitnick release here. []

    (Most of what I know of the Mitnick story comes from Jonathan Littman's book "The Fugitive Game" (which is about as Kevin sympathetic as "Takedown" is self-congradulatory), and the article sounds like Lewis DePayne's pretty Anti-Kevin now -- of course, he's got his own legal problems and probably wants to avoid some of the attention that a former accomplice might bring)

    ABC News [] has (at least as of midnight thursday) a poll on whether hackers should go to jail on their front page. (Not many options though.) They've got the Associated Press story on it here. []
    Salon's got the same AP story here. [] (in case you want to look at different banner ads, I guess)

    A decent summary of the Miramax flick is here. [] (interestingly, it lists the Project phase as "In the can" which sounds worse than "On the shelf" as the other articles mention-- which is too bad. I kinda wanted to see the story with a fistfight between Mitnick and Shimomura and everyone on rollerblades and constantly saying "What is the Matrix?")


  • by segmond ( 34052 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @04:38AM (#1352780)
    Oh shut up! For crying out loud, sure he is a cracker, but don't call him pretty poor. In early 1990's, before your lame ass probably started running Linux, Kevin had access to SunOS, VMS, Cell phone source code. Kevin might not be a great cracker, but he was definitely not a loser, and his social engineering skills is astonishing. The attack that was carried out on Tsutomu's box was sophiscated, IP spoofing tho written by RTM in 1985 was a black art till a few years ago, sure we doubt kevin even did that, but he had the hook up. Anyway, all crime aside, the important thing here is about the crime that has also been commited against this guy. For example, sun claimed it lost millions in dollars on its source, but kevin never released the src, and sun source is open today. 4 years without trial is pretty fucking unfair. We all fuck up one time or the other in our life, but that doesn't make us bad. I don't side with crackers, but you should got kevin some slack, he has been doing this since he was a kid, he is addicted. At least he wasn't doing it for money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2000 @03:50AM (#1352781)
    I seem to recall NTK ( suggesting that with all these restrictions on using, associating with or learning about high-tech stuff, the only job Kevin will be able to get is a judge :-)
  • 60M: Mister Mitnick, do you believe that your computer restriction orders will limit your hacking activities?




  • by trims ( 10010 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @06:29AM (#1352783) Homepage

    First off, I'm all in agreement with everyone who said that Kevin's treatment by the Justice System was a shambles. Alot of the system got trampled in the rush to prosecute, and I'm not happy with the way the whole thing went at all.

    That said, I'm really tired of people bitching and moaning about how Kevin really didn't do anything, and how his sentance was soooooo long, and now he has all these nasty restrictions, etc...

    Some facts and a reality check here, folks.

    1. The average time served for forcible rape in the US is 8 years in a MAXIMUM SECURITY facility. Average time served for sexual assault (or sexual battery) is 3 years, usually in a MEDIUM security facility.
    2. The average time served for 2nd degree murder (murder without forethought) is 9 years. Usually in MEDIUM security, but sometime in MAXIMUM. The average time served for 1st degree murder is 22 years in a MAXIMUM security prison.
    3. The above are from the FBI's web site on prison statistics for 1990-1995. AND THEY DO NOT INCLUDE TIME ON PAROLE.

    So please, stop with the bitching about the sentance length. It's not atypical, nor unreasonable.

    Bottom line here, folks, is that Kevin broke the law bigtime. I don't condone how he was prosecuted, but he IS a criminal.

    And, if you look at things in the big picture, white collar crime is seriously UNDERPUNISHED in the US. White collar crime is generally far more damaging to society that violent crime (whose affect is more focused), in that white collar undermines the economic system itself. A couple of years washing dishes in a minimum-security facility doesn't even come close to being either a deterent or reasonable punishment.

    One last thing here. The terms of his parole are neither onerous, nor atypical. Yes, for most of us, living without a computer would be unpleasant, but it is VERY easy to live a life without coming into contact with computers (or at least, in ways that Kevin's parole stipulate he not use them - and the ATM argument is bogus. He should have no problem using an ATM, if I read the parole terms right). Sorry, Kevin, you're just going to have to go be something other than an IT worker. That still leaves lots open. And plenty of non-menial jobs, too.

    An old aphorism hold here:

    If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

    I have no sympathy for Kevin himself. None at all. I'm still mad that prosecution handled itself the way it did, and I think they need to be taken to task for it, and heavily chastized. But I still don't feel for Kevin one iota.

    And, I'm sorry, but /. shouldn't be interviewing convicted felons.


  • ...Why is he being portrayed as some kind of Digital Martyr?

    I can take a stab at this, by answering "why not" first.

    Not because he was doing something right -- he wasn't. He acted exactly as you describe. The thing to keep in mind about his case is NOT Kevin Mitnik's behavior, but the behavior of the legal system and law enforcement authorities, and that gets under some folks' skin (like mine).

    If I had raped or murdered someone and been busted the day Kevin got caught, I'd have (on average) long been out by now, walking the streets you walk. I'd have gotten a trial WAAAY before he did. It's likely my arrest warrant would have been (gasp) actually signed by a man in a black dress...I could go on, but I think you see my point. We can rightly say that what he did was wrong, and hope that he & people like him will leave the computer systems that many of us rely upon to keep food on the table alone, but that doesn't change the fact that we live in a country that has a constitution and a bill of rights. Ignoring them once, for an unpopular person, means possibly also ignoring rights again. Someday, either of us might need them, and the time to think about that is BEFORE you're in a jail cell staring through metal bars.

    The above is ONLY my personal opinion, it has nothing whatsoever to do with my employer.

  • by nevets ( 39138 ) on Friday January 21, 2000 @03:35AM (#1352785) Homepage Journal

    ... See subject.

    60 minutes may not get the questions that we want to hear. Ok, so we'll find out on Sunday.

    Steven Rostedt

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson