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Illinois man charged with hacking government computer systems

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The United States charged two men for participating in a conspiracy to hack into over 30 different computer systems. One of those men is from Salem, Illinois.

His name is Daniel Trenton Krueger.

The other man is Nicholas Paul Knight from Chantilly, Virginia.

They were accused of conspiring “to hack computers and computer systems as part of a plan to steal identities, obstruct justice, and damage a protected computer” from April 2012 to June 2013.

In June 2012, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) detected a breach of the Navy's Smart Web Move (SWM) database. SWM was used to manage transfers for service members of all branches of the military. Sensitive personal records were stored on it, including Social Security numbers, names, and dates of birth for around 220,000 service members.

The hackers were known only by their online aliases and were members of a group called "Team Digi7al". Knight, the self-proclaimed leader of the group, went by the names Inertia, Iner7ia, Logic, and Solo. In an interview with Softpedia, Iner7ia revealed he was a black hat hacker who worked for the Navy - in the nuclear sector.

"Yes, I am currently a blackhat hacker. This is mostly because the sites that I hack are usually government related. I believe that if we can’t protect ourselves against a cyber attack, then how can we trust the government to protect against anything else?"

Iner7ia also revealed that he used to be a white hat hacker (someone who works with companies to find vulnerabilities in their computer systems), but the people he worked for were "ungrateful and sometimes they wouldn’t take me seriously".

When questioned about working in the Navy and still hacking government sites, Iner7ia had this to say: "I fight for the people of the United States, not the government. I fight for the freedom of the individual, not the government. There is so much corruption out there and we follow blindly. We have strayed so far from the constitution and it is out of hand. I hope that we can just stop and take a long hard look at ourselves and realize how [expletive]-ed up we really are."

Krueger did the technical hacking work of the SWM database and claimed to do so “out of boredom.” He went by the names Thor, Orunu, Gambit, and Chronus.

An NCIS investigation, assisted by the Defense Criminal investigative Service (DCIS), was able to identify Knight and Krueger as the alleged hackers.

“The Navy quickly identified the breach and tracked down the alleged culprits through their online activity, revealing an extensive computer hacking scheme committed across the country and even abroad,” said U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams.

They uncovered that more than the Navy's database had been hacked. Some of the other victims include:
- U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- AT&T U-verse
- Autotrader.com
- Harvard University
- Johns Hopkins University
- Kawasaki
- Library of Congress
- Los Alamos National Laboratory
- Louisville University
- MeTV Network
- Montgomery Police Department (Alabama)
- Peruvian Ambassador’s email (in Bolivia)
- San Jose State University
- Stanford University
- Toronto Police Service (Canada)
- Ultimate Car Page
- University of Alabama
- University of British Columbia (Canada)
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- World Health Organization

During the time of the attacks, Knight was on active duty in the Navy, assigned to the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman as a systems administrator in the nuclear reactor department. Krueger was a student at an Illinois community college, studying network administration.

Knight and Krueger could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, in addition to restitution to the victims of the crime, if they are convicted.

Sources: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, US DOJ, Softpedia

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