Crime & Justice

Suspected Romanian hacker indicted for intrusion into NASA JPL computers


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Federal prosecutors are putting the heat on a Romanian hacker nicknamed Iceman. A federal grand jury indicted hacker Robert Buytka, 25, Tuesday on charges of breaking into 25 computers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, used for climate research and weather forecasting.

The breaches allegedly happened December 2010.

Assistant U.S. attorney Erik Silber says the lab had to take the affected Atmospheric Infrared Sounder Program computers offline for more than two months.

"They were taken out of use, essentially to be able to eliminate his access on it, to eliminate malicious code that had been put on the computers and then to restore the data that was there. But they didn’t crash the computers or anything like that, but they had to be taken out of service."

A Romanian court convicted Butyka of the crime last month; he received a three-year prison sentence there. Now he faces 10 years in an American prison if a jury convicts him on these new charges.

Damage from the hacking is estimated at $500,000, including costs of work on the computers and lost research time.