The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has arrested a 28-year-old British man on suspicion of hacking into US military and government systems.
US prosecutors named the man as Lauri Love, of Stradishall in Suffolk. He was arrested under the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) on 25 October and released on bail until February 2014, having previously been charged in the US. The NCA said that people can be arrested for launching attacks from within the UK against computers anywhere in the world.
An indictment published by the US district court of New Jersey described Love as “a sophisticated and prolific computer hacker who specialised in gaining access to the computer networks of large organisations, including government agencies, collecting confidential data including personally identifiable information from within the compromised networks, and exfiltrating the data out of the compromised network.”
The indictment also mentions three un-named co-conspirators, two from Australia and one from Sweden.
The New Jersey court documents said that Love, who operated under the pseudonyms nsh, route and peace, hacked into “thousands of computer systems”, including the US Army, US Missile Defense Agency, and Nasa. The indictment alleges that data was stolen, including personal information about US military personnel and government employees, “resulting in millions of dollars in damages” to the victims.
Love intended to “disrupt the operations and infrastructure of the US government,” according to the indictment.
The document described the methods of attack allegedly used – this included SQL injection attacks and exploitation of vulnerabilities in ColdFusion, an Adobe web application development platform. Their plan was to place malware to act as back doors or “shells” to allow access to government networks at a later date.
The court documents revealed details of IRC chats allegedly conducted between the conspirators, in which “peace” said: “You have no idea how much we can fuck with the US government if we wanted to… this stuff is really sensitive.”
They discussed the timings of attacks, and planned to reveal what happened on social media at times that would make the morning news in the US.
Love and his alleged conspirators are said to have used the Tor network in an attempt to conceal their activities. The hacking took place between October 2012 and October this year.
“According to the indictment, Lauri Love and conspirators hacked into thousands of networks, including many belonging to the United States military and other government agencies,” said US Attorney Paul Fishman, in a statement.
“As part of their alleged scheme, they stole military data and personal identifying information belonging to servicemen and women. Such conduct endangers the security of our country and is an affront to those who serve.”
Andy Archibald, head of the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit said: "This arrest is the culmination of close joint working by the NCA, Police Scotland and our international partners.
"Cyber-criminals should be aware that no matter where in the world you commit cyber crime, even from remote places, you can and will be identified and held accountable for your actions. The NCA has well developed law enforcement alliances globally and we will pursue and deal robustly with cyber-criminal."