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January 27, 2005 04:51 PM

Broken: Arrest for using lynx Web browser

In this Boing Boing post today, Cory Doctorow writes:

A Londonder made a tsnuami-relief donation using lynx -- a text-based browser used by the blind, Unix-users and others -- on Sun's Solaris operating system. The site-operator decided that this "unusual" event in the system log indicated a hack-attempt, and the police broke down the donor's door and arrested him.


On the one hand, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. On the other, grr, I guess the police will just arrest whoever without examining incidents or questioning people now.

Posted by: Maurs at January 27, 2005 05:12 PM

Well, since when is using lynx not a crime?

Posted by: Mr. Fluffles at January 27, 2005 05:15 PM

Damn hackers and their charitable contributions.

Posted by: Brian at January 27, 2005 05:31 PM

It should be a crime for a company to hire a sysadmin that is that stupid.

Posted by: Jacques Troux at January 27, 2005 05:32 PM

well ive heard that its possible for terrorists (or anyone really) to make "donations" to certain organizations only to have that money diverted to real terror cells.

no idea if its true or not though.

this still doesnt make any of this less stupid by the way.

Posted by: Carl Winslow at January 27, 2005 06:03 PM

People need to learn to read. I bet they arrest firefox users too :-P(i'm on IE because i cant get ff on this comp to run. grrr)

Posted by: Charles at January 27, 2005 08:49 PM

Since when did we arrest people basedn on stupidity?

Posted by: Invalid Atribute Index Adam at January 27, 2005 10:10 PM

What happened to ask questions first, shoot later...

Posted by: joe plaugher at January 27, 2005 11:05 PM

Umm, let's not jump to conclusions. If you check out the link that is so helpfully provided on boingboing, there's nothing in the news story to indicate that this wasn't a genuine hacking attempt.

I'm not saying it didn't happen the way Doctorow presents it, but all he's reported is an excerpt from "a mailing list", updated with some info that his source is "leery of going public". I have similarly reliable evidence that there are millions of dollars waiting for me in Nigerian bank accounts.

Posted by: E.T. at January 28, 2005 10:35 AM

Uhm, Lynx does things the same way as other browsers, only, it doesnt request the non-text files (i.e. flash or music or image or....) If this is true, then there is a huge miscarriage of justice.

Posted by: Justin at January 28, 2005 07:48 PM

UH, Whats Lynx?

Posted by: rev_ty at January 30, 2005 09:56 AM


read the first sentence

Posted by: joe plaugher at January 30, 2005 09:16 PM

So...did Microsoft have anything to do with this?

Posted by: netcrusher88 at February 3, 2005 01:44 AM

though the means were excessive and the admin was an idiot. lynx was seen as a threat because many hacking scripts use it because its and integrated part of the OS

Posted by: guardoftheguards at February 6, 2005 08:00 PM

"...lynx was seen as a threat because many hacking scripts use it because its and integrated part of the OS"

Um. No. Let's count the errors in this comment:

1) Lynx is not an "integrated part of the OS." It may be packaged along with the OS for that particular system, but it is not integrated.

2) If hacking scripts use it because it's a so-called "integrated part of the OS," what does that say about Internet Explorer, which truly IS integrated into Windows? What about all the myriad security flaws in IE? What about all the virus-infected and/or zombie boxes running unpatched Windows out there? (Not to suggest that patched Windows *isn't* broken---it certainly is)..

Anyhow.. 'Nuff said.

Posted by: Midnight Skulker at February 15, 2005 09:09 AM


are you for sale too?! cus you are precious!

Posted by: piemaster at February 25, 2005 08:49 PM

"lynx was seen as a threat because many hacking scripts use it "

It would seem to me that the people who write such highly-sophiscated 'hacking scripts' should know that lynx has a "useragent" option:

lynx -useragent="Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.01; Windows NT 5.0)"

Posted by: imdk2 at April 4, 2006 12:43 AM

Alright, just to correct few things. Unix Solaris was running that British Telecom server. That dude, his name was Daniel Cuthbert, wasn't using lynx but browser Safari on Apple. He said that trying to throw the police off the trail. At that time he used to work as IT security consultant for ABM Amro and got fired after that arrest. He was found guilty under Section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act of 1990 and fined £400 plus £600 costs. The alarm was triggered (Intruder Detection System) when he tried to gain unauthorized access into site’s higher directories cuz he didn’t get the thank you screen after donating £30. He thought that it was a phishing site.

Posted by: Beerseeker1 at May 12, 2006 12:42 PM

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