Navy Sailor Admits He Led a Hacking Group
5/21/2014 5:17:00 AM,
(CN) - A former systems administrator in the nuclear reactor department of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman has admitted leading hacking into more than 50 military, university and business computer systems to steal the identities of thousands of people.
Former U.S. Navy enlistee Nicholas Paul Knight, 27, of Chantilly, Va., pleaded guilty Tuesday to a one-count information in Federal Court.
A codefendant, Daniel Trenton Krueger, 20, of Dix, Ill., also pleaded guilty Tuesday to the same information.
Each man faces up to five years in federal prison, restitution and a fine of $250,000.
Prosecutors said the men founded the hacking group Team Digi7al that hacked into the Navy's Smart Web Move database.
"Prior to this breach, the SWM database stored sensitive personal records, including Social Security numbers, names, and dates of birth, for approximately 220,000 service members," the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tulsa said in a statement. "As a result of the breach, over 700 deployed members of the military could not access logistical support for transfers for more than 10 weeks."
Hacking victims included the Department of Homeland Security, Harvard University, the Library of Congress, Stanford University, Kawasaki, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Toronto Police Service, the University of Nebraska and the University of British Columbia, and many others.
Prosecutors said that at least three minors and a Canadian citizen coordinated the group's hacks over email, IRC chat and Facebook private messages, including one message where Knight tells Krueger: "if anything happens ... send me a message saying goodbye so we know one of us is caught."
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service's cyber investigators monitored Knight as he hacked into a fake database while aboard the aircraft carrier. The sting was conducted after Knight was found to be accessing the group's Twitter account from within the Navy's network.
U.S. District Judge James H. Payne is to sentence Knight and Krueger on Aug. 27.