'Homeless hacker' Lamo surrenders to feds

Celebrated computer hacker Adrian Lamo has surrendered to US marshals at the federal courthouse in Sacramento, California,...

Celebrated computer hacker Adrian Lamo has surrendered to US marshals at the federal courthouse in Sacramento, California, according to an FBI spokeswoman.

The surrender followed reports last week that the FBI was investigating Lamo's alleged unauthorised intrusion into the internal networks of The New York Times in February 2002. The Times learned of the break-in after Lamo contacted the company through SecurityFocus reporter Kevin Poulsen.

Lamo frequently trespassed on the networks of prominent companies, uncovering security holes and accessing sensitive information. He then informed the companies of his exploits and often worked with them, as a consultant, to close the holes.

In March, Lamo discovered and then voluntarily disclosed a number of security holes in the popular Blogger Web log publishing tool to Pyra Labs, which owns Blogger. The company patched the holes and posted an effusive "thank you" to Lamo on its website.

Unfortunately for Lamo, the Times was not as receptive after learning of his wanderings on its corporate intranet.

"The New York Times contacted the authorities after we learned of the breach and addressed the (security) holes internally," a spokeswoman said. "We didn't contact (Lamo) then and we have no plans to do so now."

Lamo's case had become something of a media circus, with the young hacker giving numerous interviews in recent days to Poulsen and other reporters declaring his intention to surrender, then failing to show up at the appointed time and place.

His parents were quoted appealing for his safety and saying that federal agents were watching their home and following their movements in an effort to apprehend Lamo.

Despite giving numerous interviews from his cell phone, however, Lamo never spoke to the FBI directly.

Paul Roberts writes for IDG News Service

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