By: Larry Neumeister, Associated Press Writer
(AP) A hacker admitted Thursday that he broke into The New York Times’ computer system to illegally access contributors’ personal details and LexisNexis information services.
Adrian Lamo, 22, of Carmichael, Calif., pleaded guilty to a single count of computer damage, telling U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald he was “genuinely remorseful for all the harm that my activities have caused.
“I know that I crossed a line that should not be crossed,” Lamo said.
Sentencing was set for April 8. A plea agreement between prosecutors and the defense agrees that federal sentencing guidelines would result in a sentence of six months to a year in jail. The judge, though, can alter that calculation.
Although prosecutors at one time had alleged that Lamo obtained more than $300,000 worth of services from the LexisNexis electronic information service, prosecutors said Thursday they believe his damage was in the range of $30,000 to $70,000.
In court papers, prosecutors said Lamo broke into the Times’ computer network on Feb. 26, 2002, and accessed a database containing home telephone numbers and Social Security numbers for more than 3,000 contributors to the Times’ Op-Ed page.
Prosecutors said an entry left by the computer intruder included Lamo’s name, his cellular telephone number and a description of his areas of expertise as “computer hacking, national security, communications intelligence.”
They said Lamo set up five fictitious user identification names and passwords inside the Times’ system to use to access LexisNexis and then used them to make more than 3,000 searches in February 2002.
According to the government, Lamo kept using LexisNexis to, among other things, search for mentions of his own name and exploits.
He has acknowledged involvement in some dramatic computer break-ins over the past several years at large corporations.
His lawyer, Sean Hecker, said Lamo is “remorseful for what he’s done and he’s hoping to move on and put this behind him.”