A 28-year-old British man has been charged with hacking into military and civilian computer systems and stealing personal data on thousands of individuals, including service members, federal authorities announced Monday.
Federal prosecutors filed an indictment in Newark federal court alleging that Lauri Love illegally infiltrated U.S. government computer systems of the Army, Missile Defense Agency, Environmental Protection Agency and NASA, costing the government millions of dollars in losses, according to the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office. Federal officials said Love and his conspirators hacked into these systems between October 2012 and 2013 and placed back doors within agency networks to freely regain access later on.
The indictment also claims that Love stole massive quantities of confidential data, personally identifying information and military data. The revelations come less than a week after the Defense Department publicly released an Oct. 10 memo from Secretary Chuck Hagel directing senior leaders to better protect DoD data.
Love was charged with one count of accessing a U.S. department or agency computer without authorization and one count of conspiring to do the same. A separate criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of Virginia alleges that Love hacked into computers at the Energy and Health and Human Services departments, U.S. Sentencing Commission, and Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (RCFL) between October 2012 and August of this year.
The complaint alleges that Love exploited a weakness in an Adobe software program called ColdFusion, which is designed to build and administer websites and databases. Federal authorities said Love stole the personal information, including names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of FBI and RCFL employees. He also successfully uploaded and downloaded files, created, edited and removed others as well as searched for data, according to the complaint.
Love was arrested Oct. 25 at his home in England and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, “or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, on each of the two counts with which he is charged,” according to New Jersey officials. The investigation was led by the Army Criminal Investigation Command-Computer Crime Investigative Unit and the FBI in Newark
In Virginia, Love faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment if convicted. The DOE and HHS Offices of Inspector General led the joint investigation there as part of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Cyber Task Force.