The hacker who breached NASA to prove that UFOs exist
In the heart of Wood Green, a forgotten suburban corner of North London, lay a dingy room steeped in shadows, where a solo hacker wasted no time to wash, shave, meet anyone, or sometimes even eat. He had just accessed classified military and NASA networks, where UFO Research and secret technologies were hidden.
Gary McKinnon got his first computer at age 14. It was the Atari 400, which proved to be a capable device for learning to write code in Basic. Inspired by the movie WarGames, where Matthew Broderick acted as a young hacker breaching into the Pentagon, McKinnon left school at 17, worked as a hairdresser, and later found sporadic work in tech support.
And he was dying to find out what critical information about UFOs the US government was hiding.
“I got interested in them when I saw one,” McKinnon said in one interview. “A very decent light in the sky.”
Between 2001 and 2002, around the time when the 9/11 attacks happened, he managed to infiltrate 97 military and NASA computers and wreak complete havoc in the US government’s systems.
Countless late-night hacking sessions trying to reveal dark secrets forever changed his life, filling it with rejection, accusations, horrors, and even more unanswered questions. Are we really not alone in this seemingly vastly empty cosmic space?
Accused of perpetrating “the biggest military computer hack of all time,” in 2002, McKinnon faced extradition to the US, decades in jail, and millions in fines.
Alien photos and non-terrestrial officers
Known online as Solo, McKinnon obsessively poked around US government computer systems. He based his actions on his obsessive search for evidence of UFOs and free energy suppression by the US government.
Solo’s attempts would seem crude by today's standards. A simple dial-up modem provided a 56 kilobits per second connection over standard telephone lines. Using it, McKinnon scanned a vulnerable 139 port used for sharing files, printers, and other computer resources.
One access point after another, he looked for systems with blank or default passwords. Soon, he came up with an extensive list of computers with high-level administrative accounts. His next step was to access them remotely, scraping any documents or data he could find.
Solo himself was surprised to learn that he could install remote access software without any trouble. At first, to avoid detection, he navigated NASA’s networks at night, when strange computer activity was less likely to be spotted. However, soon he grew confident and sloppy, even posting hostile notes on his victim's computers saying, “Your security system is crap.”
But did he find anything? Yes. He was sure he saw images of what looked like extraterrestrial spaceships.
The evidence convinced McKinnon, as the pictures were kept at Building 8 at the Johnson Space Center, “where they regularly airbrushed out images of UFOs from the high-resolution satellite imaging.” Here, he found a folder titled “Unfiltered,” containing strange satellite imagery with strange spacecraft, cigar-shaped, with a clear dome on top.
“I had remote control of their desktop, and by adjusting it to 4-bit color and low screen resolution, I was able to briefly see one of these pictures. It was a silvery, cigar-shaped object with geodesic spheres on either side. There were no visible seams or riveting. There was no reference to the size of the object, and the picture was taken presumably by a satellite looking down on it,” Solo told Wired back in 2006.
So, where is the hard evidence of this photo? Sadly, while the high-res image slowly downloaded to his computer, someone at NASA noticed the intrusion, took control, and severed the connection with the horrified yet unwavering McKinnon. Thus, the download didn’t finish.
“They had huge, high-resolution images stored in their picture files. They had filtered and unfiltered, or processed and unprocessed, files,” Solo claimed.
That was not the only finding. As his fingers danced across the keyboard, scrolling through images and documents deep in the labyrinths of classified military data, McKinnon discovered a classified personnel roster. His trembling fingers traced the words "Non-Terrestrial Officers."
The Excel spreadsheet contained names and ranks of the US Air Force personnel not registered anywhere else. It also included information about ship-to-ship transfers, which Solo had never seen elsewhere.
“None of these were ocean-going ships. It was astounding. They are not a navy, they are not an army, and not even an airforce. So, I was thinking they must be an off-planet space force or space fleet at least,” he said.
Were these humans with extraterrestrial origins or something far more sinister? Or maybe just some sort of hypothetical game? We will never know.
In a final act of audacity, a vast conspiracy emerged under McKinnon's eyes. Files detailing the suppression of free energy technologies capable of revolutionizing the world. The government seemed to be hiding advanced energy sources that could provide a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels.
Ten-year legal battle
Exploiting vulnerabilities and weak passwords to penetrate various systems didn’t go unnoticed by the overseers, as Solo's actions resulted in significant disruptions and damage to the systems accessed.
He left traces such as IP addresses. Moreover, he used his girlfriend’s email address for a trial version of the software. He was arrested on March 19th, 2002, by the UK Police and admitted he was hacking into US government computers.
The charges against him included $700,000 in damages. The US government alleged McKinnon of hacking into dozens of computers, stealing hundreds of passwords and user accounts, altering and deleting files, and rendering critical systems inoperable. For this, he risked up to 70 years in a US prison.
However, after an extensive legal battle dragging on for ten years, Britain refused to extradite McKinnon to the US due to his mental health issues, the risk of suicide, and the belief that he may not get a fair trial. The case against him was dropped in 2012.
The veracity of McKinnon's assertions is highly disputed, and there is no concrete evidence to support his claims. Many critics consider him falling victim to conspiracy theories and delusions. He didn’t leak or distribute any classified information, yet he raised many concerns about the security of military networks.
After evaluation, McKinnon was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a condition characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication combined with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
However, his allegations now could be seen in a different light after the recent revelations, when in 2020, the Pentagon released three videos of high-speed and incredibly maneuverable UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) recorded by US Navy pilots in 2015 and 2016. Former Pentagon employee David Grusch testified before Congress that the US government possesses unidentified crashed extraterrestrial craft and non-human bodies, and has been retrieving UFOs for decades.
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