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The Net's most wanted

Some call him the "Unamailer," but the National Computer Security Association calls him a criminal.

Some call him the "Unamailer." Others call him a mad hacker. But security analysts at the National Computer Security Association call him a criminal.

The person, who identifies himself as "johnny xchaotic [sic]," has been sending massive email bombs to public figures like President Clinton and Rush Limbaugh, and a small number of journalists who have offended his sense of right and wrong on the Internet. The attacks, a slew of which were waged earlier this week, shut down the victim's email--which is not only not nice but illegal, according to Dave Kennedy, a security analyst for the NCSA.

The hacker is waging a "denial of service attack," Kennedy said. Since he's certainly crossed state lines in his email bombings and targeted people whose email is supported by federal systems, this falls under the category of a federal crime, he said.

Whether this could, or would be prosecuted is up to local and national law enforcement agencies, Kennedy said. But if the time it takes for system administrators and victims to restore their mailboxes adds up to a high enough price tag, Mr. xchaotic could find himself charged with a felony, Kennedy said.

Of course, the Unamailer, who brags about his crimes and tries to explain them in a manifesto reminiscent of the deadly Unabomber's, has to be caught first.

The Netly News Network is one organization pouring its resources into doing just that, said Stephen Baldwin, the technology producer for Pathfinder, which hosts the Netly News Network.

The Netly News executive producer, Josh Quittner, was one of about a half dozen targets among "well-placed pundits and high visibility media people," according to Baldwin.

When the Netly News published his manifesto yesterday, they knew they were giving him exactly what he wanted: publicity. But they also hoped that the taunting report would "draw him out," Baldwin said.

They also knew they might be goading him into an renewed attack, Baldwin said. "We're on Defcon 4 alert here," he said. "We expect an attack, possibly over the weekend. We said a lot of things in our special report the unamailer will not like. We called him names." But, Baldwin added, if he's busted, it will be worth it.

"He's more than a nuisance. He's causing really what I?d call theft of services."

Others agree that the Unamailer is no joke. "The guy's definitely a bad guy and a computer criminal," Kennedy said. "It would not break my heart at all to see him arrested and punished. At the same time, there are much more malicious things to do hacking-wise than what this guy has done."

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