Federal Charges Brought Against Accused Teen-aged Hacker
CHICAGO (AP) _ Prosecutors have accused a teen-ager who dropped out of high school with using his home computer to steal more than $1 million in software from AT&T and the government, and they plan go after other violators.
″This is not malicious mischief,″ said U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas in announcing the federal charges on Monday. ″It’s a felony.″
Charges brought against Herbert Zinn Jr., 18, of Chicago, signal the start of ″an aggressive position toward computer crimes,″ Valukas said.
The government also accused the young man of advertising on a computer bulletin board how to electronically break into AT&T’s computers. He was charged in a criminal information.
Zinn is accused of committing the crimes when he was a juvenile, and could be sent to prison until his 21st birthday in August 1991.
He could not be reached Tuesday at his North Side residence, where his telephone went unanswered.
Federal agents raided his home last year and confiscated three computers and software allegedly stolen during the electronic break-ins, and Zinn has not pursued his computer techniques ″with quite the same vim and vigor,″ he told the Chicago Sun-Times.
He said he nonetheless hoped eventually to resume his schooling and become an electonics engineer, the newspaper said. Zinn would not discuss details of the case, it said.
The federal charges arose after Zinn had been arrested several times, including for allegedly breaking into the computers at the Keller Graduate School of Management and at Commodity Perspective Inc., both in Chicago.
″Before and after the computer break-ins (at Keller and Commodity Perspective), Zinn was, by his own admission, breaking into AT&T computers,″ Valukas said.
Court documents indicate Zinn broke into an AT&T computer at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Maintenance and Supply Headquarters in Burlington, N.C., and an AT&T computer at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.
Software taken from NATO and the Air Force base were ″low level in terms of sensitivity,″ Valukas said.
Agents raided Zinn’s home after an AT&T security officer tuned into the so- called Phreak Class-2600 computer bulletin board and spotted messages signed by ″Shadow Hawk,″ a code name the goverment said the teen-ager used.
In the messages, Shadow Hawk bragged that he had successfully gained access to AT&T computer files. In another, similar message, Shadow Hawk made the mistake of including his telephone number, which was spotted by a security officer, the government said.
The purpose of the Texas-based Phreak Class-2600 is ″to educate computer enthusiasts ... to penetrate industrial and government sector computer systems,″ said William J. Cook, an assistant U.S. attorney.
Zinn also tried to electonically break into computers at the Washington Post’s accounts payable department, a hospital in South Bend, Ind.; and computers in Columbus, Ohio; Rye, N.Y. and Pipe Creek, Texas, the government said.