Alleged lab hackers apprehended

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By Associated Press


Federal prosecutors in Oklahoma have indicted two men they say conspired to hack into computer systems at more than 30 public and private organizations, including the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the U.S. Navy and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tulsa said Nicholas Knight, 27, of Chantilly, Virginia, and Daniel Krueger, 20, of Salem, Illinois, conspired with others in a group called Team Digi7al to breach computer security. The group’s apparent goal was stealing identities and damaging computers. Court records don’t list attorneys for either man.

A lab spokesman said the breach was quickly discovered.

“The laboratory frequently experiences aggressive and large-scale cyber attack and has the ability to counter these attacks and protect sensitive information,” the lab said in a statement. 

“According to court documents, the men charged in the Oklahoma case, or their accomplices, allegedly attempted to hack into the Laboratory network, but were quickly discovered and denied access.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office said in a news release last week that the Navy quickly identified the breach in June 2012 at computer servers in Tulsa. The database included names, Social Security numbers and other personal information on about 220,000 service members.

Other public and private entities targeted by Team Digi7al include Harvard University, John Hopkins University, Stanford University, the World Health Organization and LANL.

Court records say that on June 25, 2012, a Digi7al member hacked into the UNL system and stole more than 100 email addresses and encrypted passwords.

UNL spokesman Steve Smith told the Lincoln Journal Star that the school’s Information Security Team was told earlier this year about the 2012 exposures.

“UNL immediately investigated and found that of these email accounts, fewer than 10 were still active,” Smith said. “The associated people were notified and were instructed to change their passwords to something they’d never used before.”

Several safeguards have been in place at UNL since 2012 to help identify potential vulnerabilities before they can be exploited, Smith said.

In May 2012 the University of Nebraska system discovered that someone had hacked into the system database of student, alumni and employee records. It was later learned that the hacker also gained access to sensitive information stored by the Nebraska State College System.

More than a year later, federal prosecutors indicted an Omaha man, Daniel Stratman, for the breach. He made a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to a count of fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 17.

Spokesman Jan Sharp of the U.S. attorney’s office in Omaha told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the university hacking cases were not connected.