This slanderous bit of "reporting" was originally published in my short series of "Second Opinion" columns on O'Reilly & Associates' I-Media webzine, the discontinued precursor of Web Review.

I-Media Editor's Note: In the sprit of the "news stories" about Microsoft's acquisition of the Catholic Church, we present this facetious column about the true identity of Kevin Mitnick. Chris Locke says: "I count John Markoff, Jared Sandberg and Peter Lewis as personal friends, and have greatly enjoyed the work of William Gibson, though I've unfortunately never had the pleasure. I once got email on the WELL from Bruce Sterling, but that was a long time ago; I'm sure he's never done anything illegal. As to Tsutomu Shimomura, I have no evidence one way or another as to whether he is a figment in the mind of William Gibson, though I believe there are possibilities here that bear further investigation. Finally, the operating system software referred to below is purely a product of imagination."

This Just In...

By Christopher Locke

In a development sure to rock cyberspace to its very foundations, it was revealed today that Kevin D. Mitnick, the notorious hacker who breached the security of innumerable Internet sites, is in fact John Markoff of The New York Times.

The news appeared in a front-page story by Jared Sandberg in today's Wall Street Journal. Long suspicious of how Markoff was managing to beat the Journal on major Internet hacker stories, Sandberg said he last year began quietly working with investigators at the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to determine the exact whereabouts of Mr. Markoff at the time of various security incidents he was then tracking. Correlating Markoff's logins with these events "raised more than a few eyebrows at CERT," Mr. Sandberg said.

When Markoff could not be contacted at the San Francisco desk of The New York Times as the story about Mitnick's exploits was breaking, Sandberg became even more suspicious. Flying to Raleigh, N.C., the Journal reporter attempted to arrange an interview with Mitnick through the sheriff's office there. However, Mitnick's public defender did everything possible to prevent the meeting from taking place. "In light of the fact that he had only that morning met with 13 book publishing agents, I found this sudden reticence rather odd," said Sandberg, who was by then becoming increasingly convinced that Mitnick was in fact an alias for Markoff.

To uncover the facts, Sandberg employed some hacking of his own. Cutting a deal with a group of German crackers he had been interviewing with the promise of anonymity, Sandberg suggested that they might want to have a look at certain directories residing on Markoff's Mac at nyt.com, which is directly connected to the global Internet. As the Times