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Adrian Lamo

Adrian Lamo, born of the colder northern reaches of the USA in 1981, is largely considered one of the more misunderstood figures in the computer hacking community. Best known for his unauthorized exploration of corporate networks at companies such as Yahoo, AOL Time Warner, MCI WorldCom, Microsoft, NSA contractor CSC, and most recently The New York Times, his personal research has focused most closely on the interaction of seemingly unrelated events in complex networks. Although his pursuit of such has had incidental applications in computer security, he feels that the same foibles inherent in complex systems that make possible his repeated exploration of security exposures are also embodied in entirely unrelated aspects of the offline world.

Lamo discussed the Times break-in with the SecurityFocus website, which reported it in an article on 26 Feburary 2002. The Times filed a complaint (described by Lamo as "unsporting") and by May federal prosecutors in New York had begun an investigation. A warrant for his arrest was issued in September 2003 and Lamo surrendered to the FBI at Sacramento, California on September 9th at 10:15 AM. after spending a few days in hiding. On 8 January 2004 he pleaded guilty to federal computer crime charges.

Critics have repeatedly labelled Lamo as a publicity seeker or common criminal, a crusade fueled by Lamo's refusal to refute them in any public way. "Anything I could say about my person or my actions would only cheapen what they have to say for themselves," was Lamo's only reply when challenged for a response to allegations that he was glamorizing crime for the sake of publicity. Ironically, it was one of Lamo's own actions that took online media down a notch -- his September 2001 modification of series of Yahoo! news articles highlighted both the vulnerability of the medium and, as he put it, overall "reader apathy."

Lamo's documentation is largely unpublished, but has been shared with a small group of researchers in related areas. Privately held works attribute both his easy entry into highly secured networks and his involvement in other, less public phenomena to an amalgamation of separate, unique events and situations at points and times reachable only by an abandonment of any effort to identify patterns related to them. Published reports indicate Lamo has repeatedly declined to clarify his stance in greater detail for media sources; his sole response to a 2001 interview on the matter was a terse "Faith manages."

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