Learn the lessons of McKinnon case, says Lacey

IT security chiefs have welcomed a UK court’s decision to recommend extraditing the former systems administrator accused of hacking into US defence systems.

IT security chiefs have welcomed a UK court’s decision to recommend extraditing the former systems administrator accused of hacking into US defence systems.

But David Lacey, former head of security at Royal Mail, said the case also raised important security lessons for the US government that should be taken on board by businesses too.

Gary McKinnon faces charges of causing £475,000 damage to computer systems belonging to the Pentagon, Nasa, the US army and US navy. McKinnon argues that he caused no damage to the computer systems he visited.

“The damage they claim is very high and it went on for a long time,” said Lacey. “One feels there has to have been a problem at the user end not to cut it off more quickly. There is a lesson from organisations to fix things quickly.”

Bob Ayres, vice-president of security for Selex Sensors and Airborn Systems, and former US Department of Defense security adviser, said that even if McKinnon caused no damage, the US military had no choice but to rebuild its systems after they were penetrated.

Ayres said the extradition decision would send a signal to hackers after previous lenient sentences handed down to those accused of breaking into US military systems.

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