Sophos: McKinnon is NOT a cybercriminal

Hacker Gary McKinnon faces trial in US, though Sophos claims most IT professionals are against the decision and that the hacker should not be considered a 'cybercriminal' says Sophos' Graham Cluley

A poll of 550 IT professionals reveals seven out of ten DISAGREE with the British High Court's decision that the hacker should be be extradited to the US.

The London-based hacker has been at the centre of a national media campaign in Britain, with both the tabloid press and popular opinion supporting McKinnon's desire to be tried in the UK.

"Normally most of our customers would be against hackers," Sophos' Senior Technology Consultant Graham Cluley exclusively told TechRadar today.

"But in this case nearly three-quarters of them are supporting McKinnon's wish to be tried in the UK."

60 years in 'supermax' facility

Following its latest poll on the matter, Sophos notes: "Despite a relentless media campaign and several extradition appeals in the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights, today's decision by Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Wilkie could leave McKinnon facing up to 60 years imprisonment in a 'supermax' facility."

"McKinnon has had tremendous support from hackers and ordinary people throughout this saga – but what is truly staggering is the support he has received from the IT community," added Graham Cluley.

Not a cybercriminal

"The consensus is that it is perhaps inappropriate to make an example of a UFO conspiracy theorist when serious crimes are still being carried out by financially-motivated hackers, stealing identities, sending spam and creating botnets."

McKinnon – also known by the handle 'Solo' – caused nearly a million dollars worth of damage according to claims by the American Government, shutting down systems responsible for the tracking the location of naval ships, and protecting Washington DC.

"Of course a strong message must be sent out to hackers that their activities are unacceptable, but there is arguably a difference between McKinnon and cybercriminals who are in it for the money," continued Cluley.

No more appeals

"The question is, how many more appeals do McKinnon and his numerous supporters have left before his unwilling departure from Heathrow airport?"

It would seem that the answer to that is none. It looks very much like this is the end of the road for McKinnon's wish to be tried in the UK, unless, as Graham Cluley puts it, his supporters "manage to pull something very clever out of the hat at the last minute."

You can read why TechRadar's very own Oxblood Ruffin disagrees with the High Court's decision to extradite McKinnon right here.