NYT hacker Adrian Lamo gets home detention

Adrian Lamo, who gained a reputation as the "homeless hacker" for his itinerant lifestyle, will be considerably easier to find -- at least for the next few months. Lamo was sentenced last Thursday to six months of home confinement after pleading guilty in January to charges that he broke into the internal computer network of The New York Times.

Lamo, 23, also was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay more than US$64,900 (AU$88,515)in restitution, after he hacked into the New York Times internal computer network, accessed and modified confidential databases and used the paper's LexisNexis account to conduct research, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

In an appearance in Manhattan federal court in January before Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, Lamo acknowledged hacking into the Times' network in February 2002 and accessing a database containing personal information on more than 3,000 individuals who contributed editorials to the paper's Op-Ed page. Lamo also acknowledged setting up user accounts through the Times account with the LexisNexis online information service, which Lamo used for more than 3,000 searches over a three-month period, according to information provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Lamo faced a statutory maximum of up to five years in prison and a fine of US$250,000 (AU$340,969) for his crimes, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney's Office at the time of his conviction. The restitution includes US$18,500 (AU$25,232) to cover the cost of the LexisNexus searches, said Sean Hecker, Lamo's attorney. The Times initially estimated those costs at about US$300,000.

During his probation, Lamo will have restricted access to computers and e-mail and will be monitored by probation officers, Hecker said.

Lamo, a California resident, will live at his parents' home in Sacramento, California, during the home detention. He will be allowed to leave home to attend school but probably will have to wear a monitoring bracelet that tracks his movements throughout the detention period.

Lamo gained notoriety long before hacking The New York Times for his rootless life on the streets of San Francisco and for his skill in penetrating the networks of high-profile companies such as Yahoo, Microsoft and Worldcom.

Lamo confessed to the Times break-in during an interview with Securityfocus.com, a computer security news Web site, in February 2002. That confession prompted an internal investigation by the Times that uncovered evidence of Lamo's activities, and resulted in a case being opened by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Before turning himself in to authorities in Sacramento, Lamo spent a number of days in hiding after the government issued a warrant for his arrest in September 2003.

"I think the sentence is fair and just and the resolution is a good one. Adrian is looking forward to putting all this behind him," Hecker said.

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Paul Roberts

IDG News Service
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