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Hacker Selling Access to U.S. Supercomputers Faces 18 Months in Prison

Hacker Was Selling Access to Supercomputers at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory for $50,000

[Update] A Pennsylvania man was sentenced in Boston today to serve 18 months in prison for his role in a scheme to hack into computer networks and sell access systems he and others compromised.

According to the Department of Justice, Andrew James Miller, 23, of Devon, Pa., remotely hacked into several computers networks across the country and installed “backdoors” onto some compromised computers in order to gain root access.

After obtaining login credentials to the compromised computers, Miller sold access to the backdoors, as well as other login credentials, giving unauthorized people access various commercial, academic and government computer networks.

According to the Indictment, from 2008-2011, Miller and his co-conspirators remotely hacked into computer networks belonging to RNK Telecommunications, advertising agency Crispin Porter and Bogusky, Inc., the University of Massachusetts, the United States Department of Energy, and other organizations.

[Update] While an announcement from the Department of Justice said that Miller "attempted to sell access for $50,000 to two supercomputers at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Oakland, California, that were part of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center", a spokesperson from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) told SecurityWeek the information was incorrect.

“The supercomputers are incorrectly identified as Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) systems,” the spokesperson told SecurityWeek in an emailed statement. “The National Energy Research Computing center (NERSC) is a division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory located in Oakland, Calif."

“The laboratories, which have a shared early history, are frequently misidentified but are now completely separate labs,” the statement continued. “Miller never worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a national security research lab, nor did he ever have access to any LLNL computers, and Livermore has no computer systems in Oakland.”

Miller was originally arrested in June 2012 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy and computer fraud on Aug. 26, 2013.

While Miller is facing jail time for his malicious online activities, he did get off somewhat easy, thanks to a plea deal. One of the computer intrusion counts carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and the other, involving intentional damage to a private computer, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, according to the Department of Justice.

Related: Co-founder of Cybercrime Marketplace 'Carderplanet' Gets 18 Years in Prison

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.