Victor Faur, a 26-year-old Romanian national, has been indicted by the United States on charges that he led a group of hackers dubbed “WhiteHat Team” to illegally break into upwards of 150 government computers from agencies including NASA, the Department of Energy and the Navy, the Associated Press reports via MSNBC.com.
The costs to agencies of Faur’s computer system hacks are estimated to be around $1.5 million, according to the AP.
Faur, of Arad, Romania, will be charged with nine counts of computer intrusion and a single count of conspiracy, and he could be sentenced to as many as 54 years in prison if found guilty of all charges, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said, the AP reports.
The same spokesperson said Faur faces additional hacking charges in Romania, and that once that proceeding is complete, he will be transported to Los Angeles to face the U.S. charges, according to the AP.
The United States claims Faur was the leader of WhiteHat Team, whose mission was to crack U.S. government systems to prove its members could breach computers that are considered to be among the world’s most secure, the AP reports.
Once Faur compromised the U.S. agency computers, he turned them into “chat rooms” to be used for communication with additional WhiteHat Team members, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Hoffstadt, according to the AP. Faur also set out to find other passwords that would allow his cohorts to access more machines, the AP reports.
The computers Faur accessed were located at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.; the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M.; and a naval facility in Washington, D.C. They were employed to gather, retain and examine various data and emerging technologies, according to the AP.
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