Hacking has always appealed to inquisitive young minds. Finding a way inside places that are supposedly off limits can be a kick - in the real world as much as in cyberspace - even if the only goal is to prove that it can be done.
The downside, as UK hacker Gary McKinnon has discovered to his cost, is that if alarm bells ring the consequences can appear to far outweigh the crime.
From the computer in his bedroom throughout 2001, Gary maintains that he hacked into US military and NASA systems in a (geeky) search for evidence that UFOs exist. For this, he has been charged by the USA on numerous counts including 'bringing down the entire military network of Washington".
Unless the Home Secretary overturns a recent court ruling within the next three months, he will be extradited to the USA. There, he faces sixty years in prison.
I had McKinnon in mind while writing Inside the Cage. What's happening to him could happen to many, many other amateur hackers, regardless of their age or intention, and from that moment on they're on their own.
Inside the Cage is a work of fiction. Gary McKinnon's plight is fact. To show your support for Gary, visit the Free Gary website.