It was revealed today that the Justice Department has charged four men with hacking into the computer systems of a variety of tech organizations, as well as the U.S. Army, and stealing more than $100 million worth of records. The men were indicted by a federal grand jury in Delaware on April 23, but the record was sealed until September 30.
Among the information allegedly stolen by the men was software used by the Army when training soldiers how to fly Apache helicopters, according to a statement released by the Justice Department. Included in the indictment charges are conspiracies to commit computer fraud, copyright infringement and theft of trade secrets as well as additional charges.
“… members of this international hacking ring stole trade secret data used in high-tech American products, ranging from software that trains U.S. soldiers to fly Apache helicopters to Xbox games that entertain millions around the world,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. “The American economy is driven by innovation. But American innovation is only valuable when it can be protected. Today’s guilty pleas show that we will protect America’s intellectual property from hackers, whether they hack from here or from abroad.”
Stolen passwords used to steal trade secrets
The four men named in the indictment, along with other members of an alleged cybercriminal network, are believed to have gained access to the targeted companies’ computer networks through a variety of methods, including SQL injection and stolen usernames and passwords of company employees and software development partners. Once inside the targeted systems, the men stole trade secrets, copyrighted and pre-release works, source code and unreleased software. They are also alleged to have taken financial information and other sensitive data relating to the companies.
The defendants, who are between the ages of 18 and 28, are all Americans except David Pokora who is Canadian. Pokora, along with another of the men, pleaded guilty to the charges which is believed to be the first time a foreign-based individual has been convicted of hacking into a U.S. business in order to steal trade information
According to the Justice Department, the total value of the information stolen during the cyberattack was between $100 million and $200 million, though it is hard to know for sure. So far the U.S. has been able to recover $620,000 in cash and other proceeds related to the crime.