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Poll Respondents Give Different Opinions Regarding McKinnon

In an opinion poll, a large number of IT professionals said that Gary McKinnon of U.K. should be deported to a prison in the U.S. if he is convicted of his hacking crimes. This was as per survey by security vendor Sophos.

It seems quite decided that McKinnon would be extradited to United States for judgment because he allegedly invaded 97 U.S. government computers. In 2001, McKinnon hacked into systems of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force and the NASA. Earlier in second week of April this year he had appealed in a U.K. court to let him stay in his country during the trial but the court rejected it.

According to the survey, 48% of the respondents believed prison were the most appropriate judgment for 40-year-old Scottish McKinnon should U.S. authorities prove him guilty.

The survey had other opinions too. McKinnon should be punished to do community service as per 42% of workers surveyed. Another 10% said he should pay a fine.

The U.S. officials described McKinnon's crime as the "biggest military computer hack of all time" that had resulted in damage worth U.S. $700,000. If he is proved guilty after extradition he could face detention for up to 60 years.

There seems to be no definite agreement among the IT community about what punishment would be fitting in McKinnon's case, perhaps because the exact amount of damage McKinnon may have caused is still unclear. Also, the motivations supporting the alleged hack are not clear, said Graham Cluley of Sophos in a statement that SC Magazine published on April 11, 2007.

Some system administrators in the poll were so tired of hackers that they wanted McKinnon to be hanged, Cluley added. He also pointed at the distinction between oddballs that do not engage in hacking crime to secure monetary gain and the real criminals who harm businesses and consumers everywhere.

This closely contested survey echoes an earlier Sophos poll on whether McKinnon should be transferred to a foreign country or not. That poll saw almost equally opposite opinions where 48% wanted extradition while 52% didn't.

Related article: PL/SQL Attack: New Way to Hack into Oracle

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