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Date: 2001-01-29

Moritat vom schroecklichen Hacker Schmitz

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Kommet zu Hauf ihr Leut und höret die Moritat vom
schröcklichen Kim Schmitz, ein ungeschlachter Haudrauf &
Schlagetot & furchtbar großer Hacker vor dem Herrn. Erzählt
von einem mutigen Fräulein namens Amanda, die sich in das
Gehege des Ungeheuers hat gewagt und Wundersames
dabei erfahren hat.

post´/scrypt: Und jetzt rettet er Das
Thränen/fläsch/chen, bitte!
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Sunday 28 January 2001

Kim Schmitz has broken into computers at the Pentagon and
Nasa and raided Citibank's coffers. Now he is rescuing, writes Amanda Hall.

KIM SCHMITZ is a PR man's nightmare and a journalist's

"Everyone tells me not to live the way I do," he says, sitting
at the head of an oblong office table with the fingers of his big
hands loosely intertwined in front of him. Behind him on a
smaller table are two huge white altar-like candles with large
Ks, his personal insignia, at the bottom; they are lit, he says,
whenever he commits to backing a new business.

"Everyone tells me not to say the things I do. I'm very direct,
very undiplomatic. Everyone tells me to stop talking about
my hacker history, about my lifesytle, but I don't give a ****,
I've just stayed the way I am. Over the past few years I
realised that if I was to run a company or a fund, I needed to
be the captain and not listen to anyone else. I needed to be
the ruler of my world otherwise it was never going to work."

It would take an extremely brave man or woman to disagree
with him. At 6ft 5in and 23 stones and just turned 27, he is
the tallest, heaviest and probably the most bizarre
businessman I have interviewed.

Last Thursday, when news came over the wires that a former
convicted computer hacker had come to the rescue of, another of those online shops that has run
into a little financial difficulty, it was clear that this was a
story that had to be seen to be believed.
He got into scores of companies and institutions; he read
high security information on Saddam Hussein during the Gulf
War; he read the news before it was broadcast; he even got
into Citibank's system and transferred $20m by taking tiny
amounts from the accounts of 4m customers and giving it to

Today he runs Kimvestor, a private venture capital business
which was one of the contributors, the wire story said, to
Eu4m (2.5m) of new investment that LetsBuyIt had raised
which would allow it to stave off bankruptcy. Schmitz thinks
LetsBuyIt is such a fabulous investment opportunity that he
is negotiating this weekend with John Palmer, the company's
founder, to put in more money - up to Eu50m before the end
of February.

That is why, late on Friday afternoon, I am waiting on the fifth
floor of a cold, deserted and spookily quiet modern glass
building in downtown Munich.

Schmitz comes to the door. He is wearing a huge black suit,
a black turtle-neck shirt and a pair of extraordinary black and
white shoes that would not look amiss on a golf course. He
is carrying a pair of dark glasses and wears one of those
super-expensive Breitling watches that can send out an
emergency signal if ever he gets into trouble.
For a man running an investment business Kim Schmitz has
such an odd story that it's probably best to tell it straight. He
was the third of three children and born in Kiel, 50 miles north
of Hamburg. His mother was a cook and his father a cruise
ship captain. Schmitz was bright, he says, but more than
that, he was ambitious. When everyone else said they
wanted to be a firemen or a nurse when they grew up, he
said he wanted to be a millionaire.

"Ever since I was a small kid I've known I wanted to do
something big. When I entered the hacker scene, I just
wanted to reach the top - and I reached the top." At nine, he
got his first computer as a birthday present. By 12, he had
learnt to override the copyright protection on games software
and gained instant popularity with his friends by selling
copies for a few marks.

By 15, he had mastered most programming languages and,
as modems emerged, he turned his bedroom into a mini
software exchange, linking his stash of computers with his
friends' and sending software over the phone lines. Wasn't his
mother worried that he had 12 phone lines coming into his
bedroom? "No, absolutely not. My parents didn't understand
what was going on. All they saw was flashing lights and me
saying I was working."

If there was a turning point in Schmitz's life that took him
from computer whizz to world famous computer hacker who
today is still wanted on charges in the US, it came with the
phone lines.

"People knew when they turned their computer on and this
popped up that it was me," he says. "Every hack was a
trophy. I had a big feeling of power because I was running the
most important worldwide mailbox exchanging hacking
information and I knew what was really going on. I was living
two lives; my cyber life had much more priority because I
was one of the key players in a scene that was growing and
growing every day."

The software he used to sabotage Citibank and transfer the
$20m to Greenpeace took him just a week to write.

By chance in 1993, Schmitz discovered a computer account
that included the word "Pentagon". "I connected to the
computer, made myself a super-user on it and after five or six
hours had access to 100 computers within the Pentagon. I
found the main router and so could 'sniff' all the traffic and
jump from computer to computer. Some had real-time
connections with satellites that were taking photographs of
[Saddam] Hussein's palace - I had no idea that technology
even existed. It was like Ali Baba finding the treasure cave."

And then, in 1996, Schmitz' cyber world came crashing
down. At 6.00am masked policemen with guns broke down
the door of his Munich flat, arrested him and threw him in jail
for three months. Had he not lived for years with the anxiety
that at any moment he might be discovered? "No," he says.
"Absolutely not. I was so confident I could never be found."
Schmitz's story was so well reported in the German press
that when he came out of prison he was inundated with offers
from companies wanting to hire him as a consultant to
secure their systems. Within a week he was working for
Lufthansa and later brought together a team of elite hackers
to form Dataprotect. Last year, he sold 80 per cent of the
business and set up Kimvestor. It has Eu200m to invest, he
says, and likes to back technology start-ups.

As any visitor to Schmitz's website ( will see, he
lives a high-rolling life. At New Year he hired a jet, flew to the
Caribbean and went cruising on a yacht. He met Paul Allen,
the Microsoft billionaire.
Schmitz says his hacking days are behind him, which is
what you would expect him to say. But if we wanted, just for
fun, does he think he could access, say, the private email of
the chairman of Marks & Spencer?

"Absolutely. On my own, it would take about two days. With
my guys, two hours. But today I'm a businessman and I'm
playing the business game quite well. I have a huge ego, I
know that. Do I worry about it? No! I think it's cool. I have a
lot of fun."

Die gesamte Moritat

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edited by Harkank
published on: 2001-01-29
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