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The Curious Case of Gary McKinnon Term Paper

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Updated: Apr 9th, 2019


It is apparent that the book entitled Understanding & Managing Cybercrime by Samual McQuade, takes a multidisciplinary approach in an attempt to address the concept of cybercrime and how the vice has rapidly grown over the past few decades.

In this case, the author uses the alleged computer hacker who was identified as Gary McKinnon from the United Kingdom in the case study to address the complex types of criminal activities that do take place in cyber (McQuade, 2007). This book has provided a coherent study of what cybercrime entails and thoroughly explains measures that can be put in place to reduce emerging cases of computer hacking.

In this book, it is evident that Gary McKinnon has publicly pleaded guilty of interfering with computer systems belonging to NASA and the Department of Defense (McQuade, 2006). It is against this backdrop that this paper intends to analyze the wide spread intrusions of protected and confidential information that belong to either private individuals or public entities. The paper also comments on the case as presented in the text book.

Notably, this paper will equally incorporate additional research to describe the theories of cyber crimes in the context of the framework in which the case has been presented. Moreover, the paper will examine whether the effort to extradite Gary to the United States was a political stunt and whether it is a vital precedent to use while prosecuting international cyber criminals.

The impacts of these widespread intrusions

According to McQuade (2006), the case of Gary has been faced by numerous intrusions since it is believed that he committed the offense under abnormal circumstances. Studies have shown that Gary admitted to be guilty of hacking computer systems even though he did not know the end results of his action. In other words, he performed the act with little knowledge of the end results.

Evidence has shown that due to these commotions, the case has been suspended for decades and also because the victim suffers from Aspergers syndrome. As the author discusses the concept of understanding human behavior in regards to high tech crimes, numerous scholars debates whether Gary should be prosecuted yet he does not have the understanding of his action as well as the concept of justice.

It is imperative to note that Gary was under influence of Drugs when he was committing this criminal offence. As a result, this made him to unknowingly compromise even the high-tech computer systems (McQuade, 2007). It is imperative to note that one of the outstanding effects is that the case has raised concern among many computer users all over the world.

In this case, investigation has been done and it has been proven that computer administrators should be protected. This made people to realize that even with minute basic knowledge; it is quite easy for anyone to intrude into private computer networks that have default security codes (Wang, 2007).

As it is evident from this case, the events that have been captured in the case act as mind openers for computer software development experts to come up with measures that can be used to protect and safeguard illegal hacking of computer systems.

In terms of deliberating on Gary’s self-motivation, it is profound to note that he openly admitted that he broke the law by hacking the NASA computer systems. It is imperative to note that he was motivated to plead guilty out of the guaranteed deal by the US. In this case, he was to spend some years in the US prison before getting repatriated to United Kingdom (McQuade, 2007).

Nevertheless, the reason behind this deal remains controversial to date. Besides, it is suggested that he wanted to make a name for himself by drawing attention of his notoriety. One can argue that Gary was self-motivated to plead guilty since the authority in US wanted the case to end quickly.

Moreover, it is probable that Gary has a desire to draw attention to the suppressed technology where people were less concerned with the need for security in their systems (McQuade, 2007).

Describe McKinnon in the context of the frameworks and theories of cyber crime and cyber criminals discussed by McQuade

It is notable that McQuade uses numerous theories to explain why incidences of cybercrime occur regularly especially in this digital age of technological advancement. One of the theories discussed in the book that can relate to Gary’s case is the choice theory (McQuade, 2009). In the context of Gary’s case, one can argue that he committed the crime out of the desire to adventure.

Notably, he admits that he knew he was breaking the law yet he went ahead and hacked NASA’s computer systems for two years. Needless to say, for the two-year duration he was able to access useful information without being identified by the administrators (Wang, 2007). Additionally, one can use the trait theory as discussed in the book to relate to McKinnon’s incidence.

In this case, it is definite that he committed the offense due to his psychological nature. Arguably, it may not have been necessarily out of his moral choice but he was under the influence of drugs. In this case, he experienced irresistible impulses that made him to behave irrationally.

According to McQuade theory of social process, one can deduce that Gary committed the crime because he was poor. Studies have shown that he was a poor hacker who had basic knowledge on computer systems (McQuade, 2007).

Are the efforts to extradite McKinnon to the United States simply a political stunt, or are they an important precedent in prosecuting international cyber crimes?

To some extent, one can argue that the effort to extradite Gary to US is a political stunt. This is due to the fact that the British government felt threatened by holding such a vicious individual in their territory. Therefore, they wanted him extradited so that his country namely the US could take legal defense action against the hacking crime.

In this case, this was more of a tool to punish international cyber criminals. Additionally, this was possibly meant to make US feel vulnerable and hence take legal action to deter the hacking of NASA and US defense department computers (Moitra, 2005). At this juncture, it is imperative to mention that this action was meant to enable correct jurisdiction of the crime in his country where all legal procedures would be followed.

It is vital to note that if Gary was detained and prosecuted in Britain, the US authorities would have revolted against the action perceiving it as a violation of the basic human rights of its citizen. In this case, the US government would make Gary to be taken through all the legal processes considering his psychological status.

Consequently, this would make Gary to be more accountable to British courts. Therefore, the act was not merely a political stunt; it also served as a crucial precedent of punishing international cyber criminals

What you know about computer security and best practices to make recommendations to prevent similar incidents in the future

Computer security is very crucial and should be well managed in order to eliminate cases of insecurity (Moitra, 2005). It is definite that there are criminals who have high-tech knowledge of cracking computer passwords and emails hence invading other people’s privacy. In a subtle manner, people should avoid sharing their passwords or leaving their private sights unprotected.

Online users should be cautious while indulging in new sites on the internet especially those that require them to provide their emails and passwords (Moitra, 2005). Moreover, appropriate measures should be taken in order to resolve crimes related to computer technology.

The best practice to curb cybercrime is to adopt global strategies that will be used to detect cybercriminals (Wang, 2007). In addition, there is need to have harmonized global polices and preventive frameworks in order to curb cybercrimes.

The fast rate at which information technology is advancing is also a major contributing factor to cyber crime. While we may not blame the digital age for this new form of crime, it is imperative to observe that the development of software programs that largely assist in hacking sites should be monitored and discouraged at all costs.

Such software tools have been used to cause great security threats to safely guarded materials and confidential information. As a matter of fact, such emerging technologies in software development should be diverted to more profitable use in society.


McQuade, S.C. (2006). Understanding and managing cyber-crime. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

McQuade, S.C. (2007). We must educate young people about cybercrimebefore they start college. Chronicle of Higher Education, 53(14), 29-34.

Moitra, S. D. (2005). Developing policies for cyber crime. European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, 13(3), 435-464.

Wang, S. (2007). Measures of retaining digital evidence to prosecute computer-based cybercrimes. Computer Standards & Interfaces, 29(2), 216-223.

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