On second analysis, Israeli hackers attitude changes

JERUSALEM — It looks like tough times ahead for "The Analyzer."

Israeli prosecutors reportedly have enough evidence to bring charges against Ehud Tenenbaum, an 18-year-old computer hacker who allegedly broke into the Pentagon's network and other sensitive U.S. and Israeli computer sites.

Tenenbaum, who was arrested on March 18, is being held under house arrest along with two other Israeli teenagers.

Also under investigation are two California youths from Cloverdale who are suspected of collaborating with the Israeli hackers.

Tenenbaum's targets included NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

Also, Internet supplier Net Dex, Western Michigan University and Harvard said Tenenbaum penetrated their computers, causing large amounts of damage.

The FBI suspects Tenenbaum of hacking into at least 700 computer systems with his American partners.

The Israeli daily Ha'aretz cited legal sources as saying Tenenbaum could be charged with illegal infiltration into classified computer systems and conducting illegal actions on files within these systems. A 1995 Israeli law provides for up to a three-year prison sentence for committing such crimes.

Some of Tenenbaum's American victims are considering filing civil suits against him for damages ranging in the millions of dollars.

Initially, Tenenbaum cooperated with the Israeli police who were questioning him in coordination with the FBI.

However, as the seriousness of the charges became clear to him, Tenenbaum changed his attitude.

"He assumed at first that they would see this episode as a youthful mistake," said Tenenbaum's attorney, Amnon Zichroni.

"There are two ways to treat such a boy. You can try and destroy him for what he did, or you can try and rehabilitate him and harness his talents for the benefit of society."

Zichroni earlier told Reuters news service, "In the past we used to boast about the girls we had. Nowadays, kids boast of their ability to hack into computer systems.

"It appears to me he brought benefit to the Pentagon. Think about what would have happened if a spy broke into the Pentagon. He in essence came and discovered the Pentagon's coding weaknesses."

Zichroni said Tenenbaum, to his knowledge, did not obtain any classified Pentagon information. Asked later by Israeli TV's Channel 2 whether the Pentagon should pay Tenenbaum for his services, Zichroni said, "Maybe."

Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was impressed. "Damn good," he said when asked what he thought of the hacker. "Very dangerous, too," he added quickly.

"The Analyzer's" computer has been removed and he has been banned from access to modems or the Internet.