Hacker Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Illegally Accessing New York Times Computer Network (January 8, 2004)
DOJ Seal
January 8, 2004

U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Southern District of New York
James B. Comey
Contact: Marvin, Smilon, Herbert Hadad,
Michael Kulstad
Public Information Office
(212) 637-2600
Mark F. Mendelsohn
(212) 637-2487
Joseph A. Valiquette
James, Margolin
(212) 384-2715, 2720

Hacker Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Illegally Accessing New York Times Computer Network

DAVID N. KELLEY, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and PASQUALE D’AMURO, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that ADRIAN LAMO pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court before United States District Judge NAOMI REICE BUCHWALD to hacking into the internal computer network of the New York Times.

According to a one-count criminal Information filed today and a previously filed criminal Complaint, on February 26, 2002, LAMO hacked into the New York Times’ internal computer network and accessed a database containing personal information (including home telephone numbers and Social Security numbers) for more than 3,000 contributors to the New York Times’ Op-Ed page.

As described in the Information and Complaint, soon after being notified of the computer intrusion, the New York Times conducted an internal investigation and confirmed that an intruder had in fact hacked into its network and accessed the personal information for contributors to the Op-Ed page. In addition, according to the Complaint, the Times determined that the intruder had added an entry to that database for “Adrian Lamo,” listing personal information including LAMO’s cellular telephone number (415) 505-HACK, and a description of his areas of expertise as “computer hacking, national security, communications intelligence.”

The Complaint and Information state that the New York Times later learned that while inside its internal network, LAMO had set up five fictitious user identification names and passwords (“userids/passwords”) under the New York Times’ account with LexisNexis, an online subscription service that provides legal, news and other information for a fee. As detailed in the Complaint, over a three-month period, those five fictitious userids/passwords conducted more than 3,000 searches on LexisNexis; in the month of February 2002, the five userids/passwords conducted approximately 18% of all searches performed under the New York Times account, the Complaint alleged.

According to the Information and Complaint, the unauthorized LexisNexis searches included searches for “Adrian Lamo”; searches for other individuals with the last name “Lamo”; searches using the Northern California home address of LAMO’s parents; searches for various reputed hackers; and searches for various known associates of LAMO.

As described in the Complaint, in an interview with a reporter from an online publication called “SecurityFocus.Com” on February 26, 2002, LAMO admitted that he was responsible for the New York Times intrusion.

According to the Information, following its discovery of LAMO’s unauthorized intrusion, the New York Times was required to take numerous remedial and corrective measures to restore the integrity and proper functioning of its computer systems.

In addition, the Complaint also identifies a series of other computer intrusions for which LAMO has acknowledged responsibility in interviews with members of the press. In some instances, according to the Complaint, LAMO personally admitted responsibility for the computer intrusion to representatives of the victimized company, explaining how he hacked their computer network, and providing corroboration that he was, in fact, the intruder. The other intrusions, and the approximate dates according to the charges, are: (1) Excite@Home, May 2001; (2) Yahoo!, September 2001; (3) Microsoft, October 2001; (4) MCI WorldCom, November 2001; (5) SBC Ameritech, December 2001; and (6) Cingular, May 2003.

Sentencing in the case was scheduled for April 8, 2004, at 4:15 P.M. before Judge BUCHWALD. At sentencing, LAMO, 22, faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Mr. KELLEY praised the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and also thanked the New York Times, LexisNexis, Yahoo!, Microsoft, MCI WorldCom, SBC Ameritech, and Cingular for their assistance.

Special Assistant United States Attorney MARK F. MENDELSOHN and Assistant United States Attorney JOSEPH V. DE MARCO are in charge of the prosecution.