A UK man has been charged in connection with hacking into multiple US government computer systems, causing personal data of US military personnel to be compromised and millions of dollars in losses, according to US Attorney Paul Fishman in NJ.
A British man has been arrested in England and charged by the United States and Britain with infiltrating U.S. government computer systems, including those run by the military, to steal confidential data and disrupt operations, authorities said.
U.S. prosecutors said the alleged hacker, Lauri Love, infiltrated thousands of computer systems including those of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. space agency NASA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Love, 28, and three unnamed co-conspirators, believed to live in Australia and Sweden, intended their activity to “disrupt the operations and infrastructure of the United States government,” according to a U.S. indictment unsealed on Monday.
“Such conduct endangers the security of our country and is an affront to those who serve,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in New Jersey, who announced the charges, said in a statement.
Love was charged in Britain with violating the Computer Misuse Act, and charged in the United States with accessing a U.S. government computer without permission and conspiracy, authorities said.
Fishman said the hacking took place from October 2012 until this month. He said it compromised personal data of U.S. military personnel, and information on defense budgets, contract bidding, and the demolition and disposal of military facilities, and caused millions of dollars of losses.
The indictment in New Jersey alleges that, once inside the systems, Love and the unnamed co-conspirators also installed “back doors” that would allow them to return at a later time to steal additional confidential information.
Additional details from a press release from the US Attorney’s office in NJ:
Love and his conspirators planned and executed the attacks in secure online chat forums known as Internet relay chats, or IRC. They communicated in these chats about identifying and locating computer networks vulnerable to cyber attacks and gaining access to and stealing massive amounts of data from those networks. They also discussed the object of the conspiracy, which was to hack into the computer networks of the government victims and steal large quantities of non-public data, including PII [personally identifiable information], to disrupt the operations and infrastructure of the United States government.
Among the various alleged targets outlined in the indictment, one instance includes the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM), and states that, “Beginning on or about October 6, 2012 and continuing through on or about October 9, 2012, defendant Love and other co-conspirators carried out a SQL Injection attack and unlawfully accessed and stole data from NETCOM servers which included PII of over 1,000 individuals, including military personnel stationed at Fort Monmouth, a military installation in Monmouth County, New Jersey.” Chat excerpts are included in the indictment in which Love is discussing this alleged hack with one of the co-conspirators.
Love, who also went by the online monikers of “nsh”, “route” and “peace, allegedly discussed some of the actions with other co-conspirators in internet relay chat (IRC) channels. One example provided in the indictment references a chat that allegedly took place in early January of 2013:
peace: so can pivot and scan for other vulns (vulnerabilities]
peace: we might be able to get at real confidential shit
peace: blow this year wide open
Another chat, alleged to have occurred on or about July 31, 2013, shows Love discussing what the indictment alleges is “the data that he had stolen during a recently-committed hack of a United States government agency.”
peace: you have no idea how much we can f**k with the us government if we wanted to.
peace: this…stuff is really sensitive
[co-conspirator #2]: ooh nice
peace: it’s basically every piece of information you’d need to do full identity theft on any employee or contractor for the [government agency]
Love and the alleged co-conspirators often changed their chat nicknames in an attempt to avoid detection, according to the indictment.
The Associated Press (via Army Times) indicates that Love was charged in New Jersey because he allegedly used a server in Parsippany, NJ. A federal complaint has also been filed in Virginia in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia.