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OFF BEAT: Cyber villain's process a testament to patience


As cyber attacks become increasingly common and sophisticated, it’s easy to imagine James Bond-style supervillains running megacomputers in labyrinthine underground fortresses gleefully attacking our favorite politicians, retailers and sandwich shops.

But if one recently jailed European hacker is to be believed, the process is far less complicated and glamorous.

The New York Times recently reported on Romanian hacker Marcel-Lehel Lazar, an unemployed 43-year-old Transylvanian who went by the online handle Guccifer.

Mr. Lazar is serving a seven-year sentence in a Romanian prison after a two-year spree where he is credited with such acts as hacking the flirty emails of a bikini-wearing Romanian politician sent to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, whom he also hacked, the newspaper said.

Other Internet exploits revealed private self-portraits painted by President George W. Bush as well as hacks of a variety of celebrities’ accounts, all while eluding U.S. and international authorities.

Although he admitted to the newspaper to using Russian proxy servers to cover his tracks, that was his highest level of sophistication. He told the Times that in addition to using a lot of time and patience to obtain passwords, in the end, Guccifer’s methods were simple — he guessed.