Garry Mckinnon, who I've blogged about here and here, has to sit tight for 4 more weeks before knowing if he's going to be extradited to the USA for Cyber-Crimes.
Just to recap, this is a guy who has Asperger's Syndrome (confirmed), who zoned in on insecure military\government networks looking for proof that aliens exist, along his way he really didn't do any real damage except force the network admins to down systems out of sheer panic, then blame the outage on him so that they could bolster their claim for extradition as well as protect their jobs! Say they didn't take down those systems, then all Garry did was walk in, look, get disappointed at not finding evidence for aliens (maybe he hit on the wrong servers? He must of skipped over the server called ALIENINFOSECRETS), then leave or get in the process, hmm.
All his PC, the data on the disks, the phone logs, his mobile (cellular) phone usage, his friend-base, essentially his entire world, all that information has been retrieved by the Intelligence Agencies. No shock stories the next days saying "Garry McKinnon proven link to AL-QUADA" or such attention grabbing headline in the media. The intelligence agencies know EXACTLY what he did, where he went. And, they know he's not part of a sleeper unit, and that he's not linked to Al-Quada or any other groups that represent a rebel region, country, or even an ideology that facilitates terrorism. Worth looking that word up here and here for a head scratching moment ...
This situation really pisses me off. This guy is essentially a UK national treasure. He found that after the 9/11 incident, if Al-Quada had anyone with reasonable skills they COULD have breached the USA Military\Government networks and caused REAL HAVOC and DAMAGE. Garry was literally inside critical systems, the extent of the damage that could have been done doesn't bear thinking about. How embarrassing is that for the Military\Government. Routers with default passwords sigh, would you setup a router for the company you work in and keep the default password? Wouldn't you feel uncomfortable doing that? Take it further, you work for the military and you don't change the passwords? Come on, a single dumb-mistake or a catalogue of them? This just highlights the need for more training, reasserting the polices that are already in-place, and performing an audit to protect these assets from further abuse. It's probably happened already, outside the limelight of the media, and as a result of Garry these systems should be as tight as a sharks butt, and that's water tight (or so they say on the Natural History channel ;-).
So Garry came along, prodded, got caught, and the admins secured the environments. Also keep in mind this isn't a high-tech crime in that he was using a pretty low spec PC and a dial-up modem! And he was in almost total isolation when he did this! I respect this guys skills out and out, I'd like to meet him to discover more about this story. It shows you don't have to have straight A's, a degree, or years of experience to have quality skills to reach right out there, and do something extraordinary and way beyond the capabilities of most of us.
Garry is a real example of someone with rare talent. Hark back a 100 years and he'd of been recognised as a SAVANT, and might have progressed a branch of science like Einstein (amongst many left-handed or autistic folk) did. Think I'm talking a load of baloney? Then look it up (and out of interest check out the left-handed phenomena). The world has been progressing off the backs of these Savant geniuses since records began. Now, we push them away in favour of healthy minded-folk. And, look at how rapid our progress is? Some of these normal folk are just not making the connection\jump that these Savants often make easily. It's just a fact of life, and it's not suppose to diminish the efforts of others. Historically, our progress in the sciences has slowed down. Go figure. Bring on the Savant equivilent of the A-Team!
Garry McKinnon should be working for a penetration testing company. Or, he should be helping the worlds' governments highlight routers with default passwords or other such embarrassing practices. At least someone should be utilizing this talent, and not letting it go to waste. If I was rich, I'd hire just savants and see where it goes, just to see what these folk could deliver. Why doesn't Google or Microsoft do this? It's like having the best tools in the lab set aside while the more mundane, average tools cluster together and make a ham of something, or deliver out of sheer brute force via quantity of numbers. You can only throw bodies at a problem if it's the kind of problem that can be spread out and resolved that way. Sometimes, a concept\idea can only be conceptualised by a single person, who drives it forward to give us such things as "The Origin of the species", or the "Theory of Relativity" et al. These examples are messy, in that normal folk contributed. Einstein progressed using research and contributions from others no doubt about that, same as Darwin; But their framework and ideas were very unique.
Think I'm talking crock about the contributions to society that Savants make? Think that only normally balanced minds produce all the worlds' science and technological breakthroughs? Get ready for a bit of a shake-up in your thinking then, and read this and Google further if you're interested. You are in for a SHOCK! TRUELY! And realise something important, we're all born quite mad, it's the human condition, genius shares the same bed with insanity, and if you wipe out insanity then at a stroke you damage genius.
My final thought on this matter, at least until the verdict on his deportation is made public in 4 weeks time ... Just think if Garry had been obsessed with quantum mechanics instead of the existence of Aliens ... Or just imagine if this talent gets 70 years in prison for Cyber-Terrorism charges ...