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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 24

Hacker Who Broke Into NASA Computers Freed

From: Stig_Agermose@online.pol.dk (Stig Agermose)
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 07:32:59 +0200
Fwd Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 10:28:41 -0500
Subject: Hacker Who Broke Into NASA Computers Freed

Full story

Hacker who broke into Nasa walks free

The Times of London

Sat, Nov 22 1997

Prosecutors say case was no threat to security, writes Stephen Farrell.

A COMPUTER hacker charged with breaking into United States Air Force
computers causing damage estimated at Pounds 300,000 walked free from
court yesterday.

Mathew Bevan, 23, smiled as he left Belmarsh Crown Court, southeast
London, with representatives of a tabloid newspaper six months after a
London teenager, Richard Pryce, was fined Pounds 1,200 for admitting
similar offences.

Prosecutors decided it was not in the public interest to pursue a
costly case expected to last up to three months involving witnesses
flown from America to give evidence against Bevan, the son of a Fraud
Squad detective.

The decision comes three and a half years after two hackers codenamed
Kuji and Datastream Cowboy used the Internet to penetrate Rome
Laboratories, the US Air Force's premier command and control research
facility at Griffiss Base in New York.

Sources close to the US investigation said the intrusions had "serious
implications" but did not involve national security. According to a
report to the US Senate Affairs Committee the intruders gained access
in March 1994 to unclassified files held at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight
Centre and computers belonging to Lockheed.

Pryce, then 16, from Colindale, North London, who went on to win a
scholarship to study the double bass at the Royal College of Music, was
fined after he admitted 12 charges of gaining unauthorised access under
the Computer Misuse Act. Magistrates were told he "caused more harm
than the KGB".

Another institution allegedly penetrated by the pair was Wright-
Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, where wilder elements among UFO
conspiracy theorists believe alien spacecraft are secretly held.

Bevan, who cheerfully acknowledges being obsessed with aliens,
nevertheless denied three charges of gaining unwarranted access to USAF
and Lockheed computers between March and May 1994.

The charges related to the alteration of data by the alleged insertion
of a "sniffer" program designed to gain access to systems.

The investigation was carried out by Scotland Yard's Computer Crime
Unit and the US Air Force's Office of Special Investigations (OSI).
Initial charges of conspiracy against the pair were dropped at an
earlier hearing.

Pony-tailed Bevan, an X Files addict, obsessed with UFOs, lived a twin
existence and saw himself as the Nick Leeson of the hacking world.

An Admiral Insurance computer operator by day, at night he sat beneath
posters of his fictional FBI heroes, Mulder and Scully, hacking around
the world as real-life American investigators on his electronic trail
suspected him of being one of the most sophisticated and dangerous
hackers they had ever encountered.

In an interview with The Times Bevan admitted gaining access to
computers belonging to the US Air Force, Nasa and the defence
contractors Lockheed, but adamantly denied ever altering data.

He insists his motive was curiosity, not personal gain. "I was after
information about UFOs. I just wanted to find evidence of all the
conspiracy theories - alien abductions, the 1947 Roswell landings and
Nasa faking the moon landings - and where better to look than their
computer files?" he said. "The US Air Force posts details of its
personnel and network addresses on the Internet so anything you want
you can get if you know how. It was a challenge."

One source close to the American investigation, however, said: "At one
stage they were connected to Latvia and the South Korean Atomic
Research Institute, which raised serious concerns about the former
Eastern Bloc and information warfare." Bevan was 12 when he was given a
Sinclair ZX81 for Christmas from his parents, Elaine, a nurse, and
Thomas, a detective sergeant with the South Wales Fraud Squad.

Despite spending up to 36 hours at a time on the keyboard the family
telephone bills never exceeded Pounds 60 because he mastered the
technique of "blue-boxing", gaining free calls by sending electronic
pulses down the line to trick BT software into thinking a call was
over. His Holy Grail was to prove that alien spacecraft are stored in
conditions of strict secrecy at Area 51 of Wright Patterson Air Force
Base in Ohio - as suggested in the film Independence Day . Although he
claims to have seen convincing evidence of their presence, no evidence
is forthcoming.

Pryce was arrested at his parents home in Colindale in May 1994 and
Bevan in June last year. All his equipment was seized, leading, he
admits, to withdrawal symptoms. "It is all about control, really. I'm
in my little room with my little computer breaking into the biggest
computers in the world and suddenly I have more control over this
machine than them. That is where the buzz comes from. Anyone who says
they are a reformed hacker is talking rubbish. If you are a hacker, you
are always a hacker. It's a state of mind."

Copyright 1997, The Times of London. All rights reserved. Republication
and redistribution of The Times of London content is expressly pr
ohibited without the prior written consent of The Times of London. The
Times of London shall not be liable for errors or delays in the
content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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