Cybersecurity

18 Months in the Slammer for Energy Supercomputer Hacker

ptnphoto/Shutterstock.com

A Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to one and a half years in jail for, among other crimes, selling access to Energy Department supercomputers at an asking price of $50,000, the FBI announced on Thursday.

Login data sold by Andrew James Miller and accomplices let unauthorized people break into a number of corporate, academic and government computer networks, according to authorities. 

Miller attempted to sell an undercover FBI agent access, for tens of thousands of dollars, to two supercomputers that are part of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in Oakland, Calif., a division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The center's employees conduct basic scientific research in fields such as climate change, high energy physics and protein structures, according to the facility's website

Miller had obtained network access codes sometimes by remotely installing "backdoors" that provided him with universal entry to accounts, called "administrator" privileges. He and his accomplices then sold access to the backdoors and other login data. 

Miller -- who was born in 1989, according to court documents -- had pled guilty to conspiracy and computer fraud in August.  He could have faced up to 15 years in prison. Conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years, one of the computer intrusion counts allows for up to five years, and another – involving intentional damage to a private computer –carries a potential10-year sentence.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously linked the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The center is a division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

(Image via ptnphoto/Shutterstock.com)

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