Back in my days as a cub reporter, I worked the hacker beat for U.S. News & World Report. My first story was about a crack of the Pentagon dubbed Solar Sunrise. It was perpetrated by a trio of young geeks: Two California juveniles and their online mentor, Ehud “Analyzer” Tenenbaum of Israel. The crime was a lot less spectacular than the Feds made it out to be—no data was stolen or altered—but Tenenbaum nonetheless became a minor celebrity in his native country. He even became a spokesman for an Israeli computer vendor (see ad at top right).
Tenenbaum did a short stretch in Israeli prison, and was rumored to be headed for a cozy job with the Mossad. That made perfect sense, since the kid didn’t strike me as genuinely bent on destruction, or even personal enrichment. He was, rather, a true social misfit who’d found some measure of peace by exploring the world of machines. (Tenenbaum might well have a minor touch of Asperger’s, now that I think of it.)
But I reckon things didn’t turn out as I’d anticipated. The Analyzer now languishes in a Calgary jail, accused of masterminding a sophisticated fraud scheme. The secret-agent job never panned out, and Tenenbaum’s criminal record made him an anathema to private employers. So he allegedly got into card-number swiping instead. What a waste.