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Hacker Admits Stealing Satellite Data from DoD

A British man from Sutton Coldfield on Thursday pleaded guilty to stealing user accounts from a U.S. military communications system, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) announced.

A British man from Sutton Coldfield on Thursday pleaded guilty to stealing user accounts from a U.S. military communications system, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) announced.

Sean Caffrey, 25, admitted in court to accessing and stealing information pertaining to 800 users of a satellite communications system, including ranks, usernames and email addresses. Moreover, he stole information associated with 30,000 satellite phones, NCA says.

Caffrey pleaded guilty on Thursday at Birmingham Crown Court to an offense under the Computer Misuse Act: “Causing a computer to perform a function to secure unauthorized access to a program or data.”

Shortly after the hack, Caffrey posted a message online apparently condemning Lizard Squad, a known group of hackers previously associated with attacks on Microsoft and Sony and with various distributed denial of service incidents.

“We smite the Lizards, LizardSquad your time is near. We’re in your bases, we control your satellites. Department of Defense has no Defenses,” the message, posted on Pastebin, said.

The hacker stole said data from the US Department of Defense (DoD) on June 15, 2014, but was arrested only in March 2015, after “intelligence showed the hack originated from his internet connection.” Officers from the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) and West Midlands Police made the arrest.

During forensic analysis of Caffrey’s computer, NCA officers found the stolen data on the hard drives, and also discovered that the PC was used to open and operate under a pseudonym an online messaging account linked to the attack.

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“After strong partnership working between the NCA, the FBI and the DoD’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service there was very clear, very compelling evidence against Sean Caffrey. The NCA has people with skills like Caffrey’s, but they’re doing the opposite to him in detecting cyber criminals and bringing them to justice,” Janey Young, investigations manager at the NCA, said.

The financial damages incurred by the hacker’s intrusion amounted to approximately $628,000, the DoD said. Caffrey is scheduled for sentencing on August 14.

Related: Russian Pleads Guilty to Role in Linux Botnet Scheme

Related: Citadel Botnet Author Pleads Guilty

Related: Man Pleads Guilty to Hacking Accounts of U.S. Officials

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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