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[ISN] 'Homeless hacker' surrenders
By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
September 9, 2003
update - Adrian Lamo, the so-called homeless hacker, surrendered
Tuesday to face two federal criminal charges of electronic breaking
Lamo, 22, turned himself in at the U.S. courthouse in Sacramento,
Calif., ending a five-day manhunt during which FBI agents staked out
his family's home in the Sacramento suburbs and his defense attorney
painstakingly negotiated terms of the surrender with federal
A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said Lamo appeared at 2
p.m. PT before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Hollows and was released
to his parents after they posted a $250,000 bond. Lamo is not allowed
to use a computer and must "report to the FBI in New York City" on
Thursday morning to face a formal arraignment in court there, the
Since last week, Lamo and his defense attorney have stressed that he
was willing to cooperate with federal police if they revealed the
contents of a sealed complaint that described the charges. "The only
reason that I hadn't come in before now was lack of communication,"
Lamo said in a telephone interview late Monday evening. "Communication
has been good today, and as such, there's no compelling reason not to
go in...I want to come in as a show of good faith."
Lamo, something of a legend among hackers for his brazen exploits,
media savvy and rootless lifestyle, is facing two criminal charges.
One is related to his admitted intrusions into The New York Times'
network, and the other deals with his alleged misuse of a Lexis-Nexis
account, said Mary French, a deputy public defender in Sacramento who
is representing Lamo.
In the New York Times incident in February 2002, Lamo was able to view
employee records--including Social Security numbers--and access the
contact information for the paper's sources and columnists, including
well-known contributors such as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter,
former Marine Officer Oliver North and hip-hop artist Queen Latifah.
He also has claimed break-ins at technology companies including,
Microsoft, Yahoo and WorldCom (now known as MCI).
Besides his radically mobile lifestyle that often found him logged in
through a Starbucks wireless connection, Lamo is known for his
singularly altruistic style of hacking. He stressed that he's never
deleted any data or asked for money in exchange for identifying
security vulnerabilities. Some companies, in fact, have thanked him
for telling them about holes in their network that a malicious
intruder could use to wreak havoc.
Lamo's earlier exploits, which he typically disclosed, include
breaking into WorldCom in December 2001, Microsoft in October 2001,
Yahoo in September 2001 and Excite@Home in May 2001. When he
reportedly entered Yahoo's system, Lamo found he was able to alter
news articles on the company's site and tampered with one describing
accused copyright felon Dmitry Skylyarov's court travails. The New
York Times did not respond to a request for comment last week except
to say it was cooperating with the FBI.
Many of the exploits, if proven, that Lamo claimed to have
accomplished could run afoul of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse
Act, which he is charged with violating. It punishes anyone who
"intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds
authorized access" with fines and--depending on the charges--between
one and five years in prison.
Lamo has earned the "homeless hacker" moniker for his decision not to
hold down a permanent job and instead wander the United States on
Greyhound buses, sleeping on friends' couches and, when necessary,
camping in vacant or derelict buildings. He boasted that he can live
on a minimum number of calories per day--but added that he also needs
dental work and has been growing hungry enough to consider applying
for food stamps.
In one sign that he expected this week's confrontation with law
enforcement long ago, Lamo registered FreeAdrian.com, which currently
points to an old version of his adrian.adrian.org Web site, a month
after the New York Times intrusion. In the last few days, however,
FreeLamo.com has popped up, along with AdrianLamo.com.
"This has been a very unpleasant and traumatic experience for me, but
being surrounded by supportive people has helped," Lamo said. "Faith
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