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Adrian Lamo is a former grey hat hacker and is a journalist, principally known for breaking into a series of high-security computer networks, and his subsequent arrest. Best known among these were his intrusions into computer networks of Fortune 500 companies (The New York Times, Microsoft, Citigroup, AOL Time Warner, McDonald’s, etc.).
Popularly called the "homeless hacker" for his transient lifestyle, Lamo spent most of his travels couch-surfing, squatting in abandoned buildings and traveling to Internet cafes, libraries and universities to investigate networks, and sometimes exploit security holes.
Also, he is described as the most effective and controversial hacker of 21st Century, as "Bobby Fischer of hacking" (American chess champion who renounced his citizenship) and as common criminal.
Each of his intrusions had a different approach than the traditional hacking. Lamo was never discovered by the companies which he invaded in. Despite performing authorized and unauthorized vulnerability assessments for several large, high-profile entities, Lamo refused to accept payment for his services. Then he would publicised his "victory” without prior notice.
Adrian Lamo is perhaps best known for breaking into The New York Times internal computer network in February 2002, adding his name to confidential databases of expert sources, and using the paper's account to conduct research on high-profile subjects.
The Times filed a complaint and a warrant for Lamo's arrest was issued in August 2003 following a 15 month investigation by federal prosecutors in New York.
In September of the same year, after spending a few days in hiding, he surrendered to authorities of California. On September 11 (!) he re-surrendered to the FBI in New York City, and plead guilty to one count of computer crimes against Microsoft, Lexis-Nexis and The New York Times. For his invasions, Lamo did not planned. He was using a web browser and operated misconfigured proxies, often through a tool called ProxyHunter.
Lamo was removed from a segment of NBC Nightly News when, after being asked to demonstrate his skills for the camera, he gained access to NBC's internal network in under five minutes. Then, Lamo was expelled from the studio.
“Hackers wanted” documentary covering Lamo's life and times, is slated for release under Kevin Spacey’s narration. The film explores the practical and ethical themes of modern computer hacking, intertwining Lamo's story with those of controversial figures throughout history. “Surprisingly” the documentary has come out yet in cinema.
In May 2009, a video purporting to be a trailer for Hackers Wanted was allegedly leaked to or by Internet film site Eye Crave.
Lamo is also presented in the book "The Wholly Book of Cliches & Cabbages" as the embodiment of "inconsistent hacker", stating that "discordant hacker" has the skills to become a common hacker, doing it in an entire different way. Adrian also referred to the web comic xkcd.
In 2003, the time hiding from FBI, he was the first man who was interviewed by TechTV (by phone).
In 2004, Lamo was sentenced to six months detention at his parent's home plus two years probation, and was ordered to pay roughly $65,000 in restitution. He was convicted of compromising security at The New York Times and Microsoft, Yahoo!, MCI WorldCom, Ameritech, Cingular and has allegedly violated network security at AOL Time Warner, Bank of America, Citigroup, McDonald's and Sun Microsystems.
At his sentencing, Lamo expressed remorse for harm he had caused through his intrusions, with the court record quoting him as adding "I want to answer for what I have done and do better with my life.”
As of January 16, 2007, Lamo's probation was terminated.
Reviews often mention Lamo as a man who is running for publicity or as common criminal, reviews that he has never denied.
When challenged for a response to allegations that he was glamorizing crime for the sake of publicity, his response was "Anything I could say about my person or my actions would only cheapen what they have to say for themselves." When approached for comment during his criminal case, Lamo frustrated reporters with non sequiturs such as "Faith manages” and "It was a beautiful day.
On May 9, 2006, while 18 months into a two year probation sentence, Adrian Lamo refused to give the United States government a blood sample they demanded so as to record his DNA in their CODIS system. Lamo has a religious objection to giving blood, but was willing to give his DNA in another form.
Since Lamo's sentencing, he has entered the early stages of a career as an award-winning journalist, with writing, photography, and editorial work / collaboration appearing in Network World, Mobile Magazine, 2600 Magazine, The American River Current, XY Magazine, and others. Lamo has interviewed personalities ranging from John Ashcroft, to Oliver Stone. Lamo also has a history of public speaking - he was a keynote speaker at a government security conference in 2005 alongside in USA, and a panelist at the Information Security In the Age of Terrorism conference.
In the Conference of 17 December, Lamo will address the professionals of Greek community in the Security and Risk Management, through the eyes of the "other side". He is going to explain why the concept of security and its systems are failure-tolerant and not fail-safe.
Lamo likes to debating and giving answers to challenging questions. He comes ready to respond even to how… your network could be invaded!