gray hat hacking

In 1999, a seventeen year old hacker with the handle “ytcracker” exploited a weakness in Microsoft NT’s web service and replaced the homepage of three U.S. government agency web sites. The homepages of NASA’s Goddard Flight Center, the office of Land Management’s National Training Center, and a Defense Contracts Audit Agency suddenly showed an image of a graffiti-like rapper with gold necklaces and the message:

To the U.S. government and military–I have warned you about these security flaws. Please secure our military systems to protect us from cyber attack.

ytcracker’s message was accurate–he did send messages to the administrators of these systems notifying them of the vulnerabilities. When they did not fix the security flaws, he used them to breach their systems. The seventeen-year old was charged and fined $30,000 for unauthorized access of a computer system.