Cisco, NASA hacker indicted on net intrusion, trade secret theft charges

A Swedish national was indicted today on intrusion and trade secret theft charges stemming from intrusions into Cisco and NASA systems.

According to US Department of Justice allegations Philip Gabriel Pettersson, known as  "Stakkato," intentionally committed an intrusion between May 12, 2004, and May 13, 2004, into the computer system and network of Cisco. During the alleged intrusion some Cisco Internetwork Operating System code was allegedly misappropriated.

The indictment also charges two intrusion counts involving NASA, including computers at the Ames Research Center and the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division, located at Moffett Field, Calif. The indictment alleges Pettersson committed these intrusions on May 19, 2004, May 20, 2004 and Oct. 22, 2004.

The maximum penalty for each charge of intrusion and theft of trade secrets is 10 years in prison, a three year term of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.

According to the Associated Press, Pettersson was convicted and fined by a Swedish court in 2007 for hacking networks at three Swedish universities. In 2004, he denied breaching U.S. networks and said the FBI interrogated him in 2006 about the Cisco hack.

Sweden won't extradite its citizens to other countries, but it can prosecute citizens on behalf of foreign countries. US prosecutors say they're working with Swedish authorities on the case, the AP said.

In 2005, the New York Times reported that software on routers had been compromised in 2004 by a hacker who claimed that he had infiltrated systems serving US military installations, research laboratories, and NASA. The Times reported, and the FBI confirmed, that the focus of the investigation was a 16-year old in Uppsala, Sweden, who was charged as a juvenile.

The Times said a the time that the youth did not devise a new kind of attack but cleverly organized computers, automating the theft of computer log-ins and passwords and that the attacks were detected by workers at research labs who saw that software on Cisco computer routers, part of the backbone of the Internet, had been compromised.

In May 2004, a portion of Cisco's Internetworking Operating System (IOS) code was illegally copied and posted on the Internet.

Cisco and NASA cooperated in the government's investigation. Following the incident, Cisco reported that it did not believe that any customer information, partner information or financial systems were affected, the DOJ said.

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