A California man has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for hacking an Atlanta-based company and trying to extort money in exchange for the return of the company’s intellectual property.
A federal judge ordered Christian William Kight, 29, of San Clemente, California, to serve seven years and eight months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, federal prosecutors said in a news release Wednesday. Kight was also ordered to pay a $900 fine and $42,000 in restitution.
Kight, also known as Drillo, was sentenced last week after pleading guilty in December to charges of extortion, computer fraud and wire fraud.
“This defendant hid behind his computer to extort companies in this district and elsewhere,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said. “This case highlights the positive outcomes that are possible for businesses and the community when the private sector works with law enforcement to bring cyber criminals to justice.”
Kight accessed computer networks and servers of multiple companies and organizations in Georgia without authorization, prosecutors said. He concealed his identity and took data files and deleted data and log files. He then sent emails demanding money to release the company’s data, prosecutors said.
When the company said it planned to contact law enforcement, Kight threatened to send letters that could harm its reputation to its clients and to disseminate the stolen data, prosecutors said. But the company contacted the FBI anyway, and investigators identified Kight. A search of his computer equipment and email account turned up evidence for this crime and a scheme to extort other victims.
“Kight’s scheme against this company is unfortunately all too common and highlights the ever-growing need to remain vigilant in cybersecurity efforts”, said Chris Hacker, who heads the FBI’s Atlanta office.