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Max Vision begins 18-month term
From: William Knowles <wk () c4i org>
Date: Fri, 6 Jul 2001 03:39:29 -0500 (CDT)
By Kevin Poulsen
Posted: 05/07/2001 at 19:12 GMT
Computer security consultant and confessed cyber intruder Max Butler
will serve out his 18-month prison term at the privately-run Taft
Correctional Institution in central California, sources say.
Butler, known as 'Max Vision' to friends and associates, pleaded
guilty last September to launching an automated intrusion program that
cracked hundreds of military and defense contractor computers over a
few days in 1998. Butler was sentenced in federal court in San Jose,
California in May, and he surrendered to the custody of US Marshals
In a telephone interview from a county jail where he was awaiting
transit, the newly-incarcerated hacker admitted he crossed the line,
but said he thought prison wasn't an appropriate remedy.
"I really feel out of place," said Butler. "I think there are a lot of
crimes that the jails aren't a suitable punishment for... I think
there are better ways to solve the problem, to address what I did."
A consultant who specialized in performing penetration tests on
corporate networks, the 28-year-old Butler is known for his expertise
in intrusion detection: the science of automatically analyzing
Internet traffic for "signatures" indicative of an attack. Butler
remains well-regarded among many security experts for creating and
maintaining arachNIDS, a free, up-to-date catalog of attack signatures
Butler donned a hat of a different color in June of 1998, at a time
when much of the Internet was still vulnerable to a hole that had been
discovered months earlier in the ubiquitous BIND "named" domain
Apparently concerned that government networks weren't being patched
against the hole, Butler launched a program that scanned for
vulnerable Defense Department systems, cracked them, then closed the
hole in each of them -- forestalling attacks from other hackers.
Less altruistically, Butler's program created a back door on every
system it penetrated, which the hacker could have used to gain access
"I knew that I shouldn't have been doing what I was doing, but I had
good intentions overall, and I closed this hole in thousands of
systems, probably tens of thousands of system," said Butler from jail.
Butler attributed his actions to a combination of peer pressure and
hacker hubris. "I'd heard of this sort of thing all my life," said
Butler. "To see all these dot-mil's scroll up the screen... there was
a certain sort of thrill to it."
With credit for good behavior, Butler will be eligible for assignment
to a community halfway house as early as April of next year, and will
be released in mid-October 2002. The hacker used his final days of
freedom ensuring that arachNIDS would remain available until then.
"He spent the last weekend mostly just typing, and getting everything
set up so people would have arachNIDS," said Butler's wife, Kimi
Winter -- also a computer security consultant. "I thought it was
really nice of him, but I would rather have spent it lying around the
beach." Winter will maintain arachNIDS in her husband's absence.
Located in Kern County, California, the Taft Correctional Institution
is an 1800-bed prison operated under a contract with the US government
by Wackenhut Corrections, a for-profit corporation that manages over
fifty prisons in at least ten countries. The company is a former
subsidiary of the Wackenhut Corporation, a global security concern.
Butler will likely be housed at Taft's 500-bed minimum security work
camp. He joins a who's-who of incarcerated hackers doing federal time
in minimum security facilities from Oregon to Oklahoma:
Sentence: 26 months
Location: Federal Prison Camp, Beaumont, Texas
Story: Gregory was a leader in a gang of prolific Web site defacers
called globalHell. He received a reduced sentence for informing on
other gang members.
Projected Release Date: July 15th, 2002
Sentence: 18 months
Location: Federal Prison Camp, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada
Story: A member of a nationwide ring of sophisticated hackers the FBI
dubbed 'the Phone Masters,' who penetrated telephone company systems,
accessed credit reports and cracked the FBI's NCIC computer.
Projected release date: September 4th, 2001.
Sentence: 41 months
Location: Federal Prison Camp, Sheridan, Oregon
Story: Lindsley was purportedly the leader of the Phone Masters.
Projected release date: November 18th, 2002
Sentence: 24 months
Location: Federal Prison Camp, El Reno, Oklahoma
Story: Cantrell earned $9,000 selling stolen telephone calling card
numbers. He was the first of the Phone Masters to be detected and
Projected release date: October 27th, 2001
Sentence: 21 months
Location: Federal Medical Center, Fort Worth, Texas
Story: Targeted for running a hacker web site, Miffleton pleaded
guilty to trafficking in access codes, and admitted to obtaining
root-level access to the ISP Verio.
Projected release date: November 13th, 2001
Sentence: 27 months
Location: Free on bail.
Story: Convicted of hacking his venture capitalist after the dot-com
he worked for collapsed, Oquendo is the only hacker in recent memory
to take his case to jury trial. He was convicted, but continues to
maintain his innocence.
Scheduled to surrender: July 25th, 2001.
"Communications without intelligence is noise; Intelligence
without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
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- Max Vision begins 18-month term William Knowles (Jul 06)