A St. Louis hacker arrested earlier this week has been let out of jail but is under orders not to leave his parents' house or even so much as utter the word "computer."
Prosecutors contend that 19-year-old Christopher Schanot is capable of breaking into and seizing control of virtually any computer. So intense is their concern that the prosecutor interviewed for this story asked to remain anonymous for fear of becoming a target of other hackers who may be associated with the suspect.
Schanot was arrested in Philadelphia and held on $150,000 bail Monday. He was charged with five counts of breaking into the computer systems of Southwestern Bell Telephone, Bell Communications Research, Spring, and SRI International, a research contractor with government contracts.
Southwestern Bell claims to have been forced to spend $500,000 to fix a security leak and repair other damage caused by Schanot.
Schanot, who could face 30 years in prison if convicted of various computer fraud charges, was a high school student when the break-ins took place between October 23, 1994, and April 23, 1995. Three weeks after graduation, he left St. Louis for Philadelphia. His father turned over his PC to authorities where they found messages that included information about the Internet Liberation Front, a group responsible for significant computer manipulation in the past.
In a memorandum filed in federal court in Philadelphia, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan Markman said federal authorities have since linked Schanot to the group, which allegedly sent a message to the NBC television network stating: "We are capable of penetrating virtually any network linked to the Internet--ANY network."