A 28-year-old man from Stradishall, England has been charged in the United States with hacking into US government and military computers, stealing sensitive data and causing millions of dollars in damages.
The New Jersey US Attorney’s Office announced on Monday that Lauri Love of the United Kingdom was indicted with breaching thousands of computer systems, including those belonging to the Army, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency and NASA. A separate complaint filed in the Eastern District of Virginia also accuses Love of participating in an operation earlier this year spearheaded by the hacktivist movement Anonymous.
An arrest warrant for Love was signed last week and he was detained on Friday by investigators with the UK’s Cyber Crime Unit of the National Crime Agency (NCA) in connection with an ongoing probe conducted by that agency, US Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul Fishman said Monday.
Fishman’s investigative team say Love and unnamed co-conspirators hacked into those computers during the last year, installing hidden “shells” or “backdoors” within the networks allowing them to return at later times and pilfer private data.
The indictment accuses Love of stealing personally identifiable information for thousands of military servicemen and government employees.
In July 2013 chat logs monitored by federal investigators, Love allegedly told his co-conspirators he had obtained “basically every piece of information you’d need to do full identity theft on any employee or contractor” for the government agency that he had last hacked.
Conversations earlier that year with co-conspirators reveal that Love announced in the IRC channel, “we might be able to get at real confidential shit” after compromising US networks.
“Collectively, the hacks described herein substantially impaired the functioning of dozens of computer servers and resulted in millions of dollars of damages to the Government Victims,” US prosecutors claim.
In New Jersey, Love was charged with one count of accessing a US department or agency computer without authorization and one count of conspiring to do the same.
A separate criminal complaint filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is ripe with testimony from a Federal Bureau of Investigation officer who says Love also accessed without authorization protected computers belonging to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the US Sentencing Commission, Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, and US Department of Energy.