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Reports | In Depth: Adrian Lamo, the charges
{11th Sep 2003}
Accused New York Times hacker Adrian Lamo is charged with two title 18 violations of U.S.C (United States Code).  Specifically section 1030 (a) (5) (A) (ii) "intentionally accesses a protected computer without authorization, and as a result of such conduct, recklessly causes damage" and section 1029 (a) (2) "knowingly and with intent to defraud traffics in or uses one or more unauthorized access devices during any one-year period, and by such conduct obtains anything of value aggregating $1,000 or more during that period".

Count one alleges Adrian Lamo used the New York Times private Intranet without authorization causing damage in excess of $25,000 (the cost of "confirming, addressing, and repairing" the vulnerabilities) and altering contributors information.  Count two alleges Lamo created, then used five usernames / passwords to obtain search services from "LexisNexis" valued at over $300,000.

Bringing the charges is Special Agent Christina A. Howard of FBI Cybercrime Task Force who states:

In or about late February 2002, I read an article on website SecurityFocus.com dated February 26, 2002 and entitled "New York Times Internal Network Hacked".  The Article reported that ADRIAN LAMO, the defendant, had hacked into the New York Times' private intranet…

Likely based on reading that article, Special Agent Christina contacted the New York Times who then initiated an internal investigation.  The investigation revealed Lamo had accessed various information ranging from staff lists to social security numbers and created a new "super user" account.  Next after a two-three month wait another New York Times representative contacted Agent Howard informing her about compromised usernames / passwords which had been used to access LexisNexis search facilities.  LexisNexis then provided further details including the IP addresses used to access the service that were found to belong to various Kinko's locations (which it has been reported Lamo used to carry out computer intrusions before) in California and search queries including among others "Adrian Lamo".

Background:

In relation to the case New York Times supplied copies of:
  1. Their administrative database (admin_db) / Op-Ed database (Oped_db) both before and after the alleged intrusion.
  2. Various log files from a proxy server, and the NYT Intranet.
  3. An email automatically generated by the creation of a new "super user" account.
  4. Usernames / passwords created by the new "super user" account relating to "LexisNexis".
Special Agent Christina A. Howard has been with the FBI for six and a half years, and has an undergraduate degree in computer science.  She views hackers in general as those who "discover and explorer vulnerabilities and computer weaknesses in computer networks and software" and that carry out their activities using "hacker tools that can be either custom written software code or, as is more common, software readily available for download on the internet or for purchase".



Related Links:

The 'homeless hacker' talks, CNet
Adrian Lamo Speaks With Leo Before Arrest, TechTV
Exclusive Video of Lamo's Surrender, TechTV
Adrian Lamo Deposition, FindLaw.com
Lamo denies $300,000 database hack, Security Focus
Lamo surrenders, is released, Security Focus
Adrian Lamo charged with computer crimes, Security Focus
Lamo's Adventures in WorldCom, Security Focus