Arstechnica reports that the U.K.’s National Hi-Tech Crime Unit will be producing to the United States government a British citizen who allegedly infiltrated computer systems run by the United States military and numerous federal agencies, including the Pentagon. It appears that the British hacker was searching for proof of “alien life.” U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty of the Eastern District of Virginia intends to pursue charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which could result in serious jail time and significant fines.
Computer hacking to steal credit cards, trade secrets, and other valuable information is widespread. Although the pursuit of computer crimes has been slow to evolve, this extradition request and the recent arrest of 11 members of an international identity theft ring that stole 41 million credit and debit card numbers may signal to would-be hackers that they face the real risk of prosecution. It would be heartening to see the Department of Justice put its resources behind pursuing hackers who inflict serious financial and personal harm. Perhaps we could call any uptick in such prosecutions as the Mulder Effect.