There have been many computer hackers and groups that have emerged since the advent of the personal computer with their own personal agendas whether it be for fame, money, political reasons, or just to have a good time. However, there is one name that stands above the rest, one individual who has single handedly defied and embarrassed the U.S. government. For these reasons he is hardly mentioned at all in the States and doing a google search on him brings up very little hits from U.S. news sources, that man is Gary McKinnon. What was his motive? How did he do it? More importantly, what did he find?
"the biggest military computer hack of all time."
~ Paul McNulty, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
Starting back in March 2001, McKinnon decided that he wanted to make a difference in the world, he knew the government was holding back information and technology that everyone could benefit from, his motive? "Free energy", he was going to use his God given talents and expose the truth of such technologies and set mankind free. Considered to be a folk hero by many hackers, McKinnon says that he views himself as a "humanitarian", an investigative researcher if you will. His quest for the truth, to better his family, fellow neighbors, and planet has landed Gary into some serious trouble.
Somewhat reminiscent and loosely paralleling McKinnon's quest for truth is the movie Serenity. In the movie, a brother breaks his sister River out of the Alliance's secret military facility. Her brother Simon hacks and breaks into the Alliance's information systems to obtain knowledge, security badges and credentials in order to reach River. The Alliance wants River because she is their secret weapon, under training she became a highly skilled telepath and assassin. She alone holds the the ability and truth to expose the Alliance once and for all as an evil entity and save the universe.
During McKinnons "investigative research" he breeched Department of Defense (DOD) computer networks from the Army, Navy, and Air Force reportedly causing $700,000 dollars in damage and critically shutting down a Naval Air Station's network. Additionally, he was able to gain access to 98 computers at the Pentagon and 16 NASA computers including U.S. Space Command. Although he was not able to practically download any data using his 56K modem he was however able to view what the U.S. says was "sensitive information". McKinnon was able to gain the majority of his access through remote access of administrative accounts and enabling himself as the domain administrator; by using large scale phishing techniques he was able to find accounts with blank passwords and systems with no firewalls. Once an account with a blank password was discovered it was as simple as logging in and letting the research begin.
Phishing is the process in which a hacker attempts to exploit information from a user such as user names, passwords, and other valuable information via email, phone, or instant messaging. It all started in the 1990's when hackers started using AOL as a platform to exchange illegally obtained software and AOL member accounts. The term phishing was adopted due to the fish like symbol "<><" used by hackers in chat rooms to denote their purposes and intentions to other hackers. The video below by Symantec shows what phishing is and how to avoid it.
Although cliche, the connection must be made to the 1980's movie War Games. In fact, the connection to the movie War Games had brought about some attention to McKinnon in that, was he inspired by this movie to hack the U.S. Governemt? Simply put, no. McKinnon admitted to having seen the movie before but his true inspiration came from The Hacker's Handbook authored by Hugo Cornwall.
Eventually McKinnon was discovered by a network engineer while McKinnon was viewing a photo on one of the hacked newtworks. Just as quickly as it was started it was over, in 2002 British authorities caught up with McKinnon in London and took him into custody. Authorities seized all computer equipment at the residence, however, McKinnon still remembers what his "research" had discovered. While on NASA and U.S. Space Command networks snooping around for free engery technology, he had come across some photos depecting something entirely different than from what he was looking for. He stumbled upon photos from which appeared to have some sort of cigar shaped spacecraft. He described it as large and having domes pertruding outwards above and below running along the length of the craft and noticed no antennas or telemetry equipment sticking out. His first thought when he saw this was that "this was not man made". Through other means Gary had learned that these photos would get passed on to the public only after such craft were first air brushed out, however, that's not the only thing he had stumbled across. Gary also found an Excel spreadsheet, a set of military orders with names and ranks on it underneath the heading "Non Terrestrial Officers". Further more what these orders were, they were what Gary says, "fleet to fleet transfers", these transfers were from the United States Space Ship (USSS) Curtis Lemay and USSS Roscoe Hillencotter. McKinnon quickly crossed referenced this information but to no avail could find any U.S. Naval ships or crews for that matter that matched. While viewing this information which he did not expect to find in the first place and other files, he got the feeling that there were and are in fact an entire U.S. spacecraft fleet in orbit or somewhere off planet.
Unlike the fiction of movies such as Serenity and War Games this true life story doesn't have a happy ending. McKinnon faces extradition and 70 years in U.S. prison. He can no longer use a computer that is hooked up to the Internet and his life has been turned into shambles. His humanitarian point of view searching for free energy technologies to better mankind led to stark findings of a U.S. space fleet and covered up UFO photos. The government says it is acting in the best interest of the National Security for the people but is it really? They certainly are not acting in Garys interest and for that matter the public. Surpressing advanced energy technologies that could benefit the world and save lives is not in our favor. Final thoughts, still have doubts about Gary McKinnon? Three videos below show Astronauts Gordon Copper, Dr. Edgar Mitchell, and Buzz Aldrin say UFO's and aliens are real.
Gregory Puckett 2012 HU338 Traversing the Borders Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach, FL