Going To War With Our Own Hackers

It often seems that the United States just cannot get it right. Prior to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, over 300 Arabic translators were discharged from the military for homosexuality. While understandably these men were in violation of an out-dated policy, no matter your stance on the issue of gays in the military these men were performing a much needed service. I would certainly prefer a few openly gay men in military service to having someone interrupting my second cup of coffee by flying a plane full of people and, more importantly, jet fuel into my office building.

Going To War With Our Own Hackers

Since the beginning of 2013, the United States has fallen victim to numerous attacks, clearly directed by the Chinese government. While I cannot understand why they need Paul Krugman’s email address and password, wouldn’t we be better served by employing convicted hackers rather than paying tens of thousands of dollars to incarcerate them? Especially those convicted for benign attacks

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Andrew Auernheimer, 26, of Fayetteville, Arkansas or “Weev”, if you prefer his hacker handle, was sentenced to 41 months in prison today for exploiting a security breach on AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T)’s publicly accessible website. His crime? Collecting email addresses of over 100,000 iPad users – nothing more, not their passwords, credit card information, or anything else. It wouldn’t be terribly different than throwing you in jail for writing down the physical addresses of people and businesses as you walked down the street.

Along with his partner, Daniel Spitler, the two simply showed AT&T their weaknesses in an effort to promote their business, Goatse Security. After explaining their actions to AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) the two posted details of their attack on Gawker’s website.

According to authorities, they obtained the ICC-ID and e-mail address of about 120,000 iPad users, including dozens of elite iPad early adopters such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Next was White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, anchor Diane Sawyer of ABC NewsNew York Times CEO Janet Robinson, and Col. William Eldredge, commander of the 28th Operations Group at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. They also obtained e-mail addresses of dozens of NASA employees, the Justice Department, the Defence Department, the Department of Homeland Security and other government offices.

Who cares? It is an email address, nothing more.

However, Mr. Auernheimer, you have been a bit of a dick. People in a position of authority do not like to have their authority challenged. You don’t believe me? The next time you are pulled over by a police officer, you can try to order lunch from him. But of course, do not go this route if you have sensitive eyes or a pacemaker as mace or a Taser are probably in your future.

“AT&T needs to be held accountable for their insecure infrastructure as a public utility and we must defend the rights of consumers, over the rights of shareholders,” Auernheimer wrote to U.S. Attorneys. ”I advise you to discuss this matter with your family, your friends, victims of crimes you have prosecuted, and your teachers for they are the people who would have been harmed had AT&T been allowed to silently bury their negligent endangerment of United States infrastructure.”

You may have wanted to keep that to yourself. Prison hierarchy does not put much credibility in hacking related offenses.