Hacking the Gibson: 24 YO Scored Root on Nation's Top Supercomputers
August 28, 2013 7:14 PM
Defendant also sold access to Domino's Pizza domain and other targets; enters plea deal with feds
Consider yourself a "l337 h@X0r"? Black and gray hats might want to leave their egos at the door after comparing their own illegal exploits to those of Andrew "green" Jackson Miller, a 24-year-old native of Lancaster and Devon, Penn.
The young hacker -- a member of the "
Underground Intelligence Agency
" (UIA) hacker ring -- over a three-year period from 2008 to 2011 scored root access to a number of corporate and academic computers and clusters. But Green's biggest score came when he hacked into the Cray XT4 supercomputing cluster at the
U.S. Department of Energy
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
(LBL). He gained that access by first hacking into a Japanese University's computer network, as well as
University of California at Davis
's (UC Davis) computer networks.
This gave him access to
's nearly tens of thousands of computer cores.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) began to close in as Mr. Miller sold his illegally acquired access privileges in 2012. Talking on internet relay chat (IRC) FBI agents posing as prospective cybercrime buyers recorded Mr. Miller bragging of hacked access to American Express Comp. (
), Yahoo! Inc. (
), Google Inc. (
), Adobe Systems Inc. (
), WordPress, and many more.
The agents established a working relationship with Mr. Miller to lure him in.
Hopper, one of LBL's supercomputers [Image Source: LBL]
They purchased access to Domino's Pizza, Inc.'s (
) domain ($1,000), RNKTel (Mass.) administrative level customer database access ($1,000), and an
ISP Layered Tech
(Tex.) database with thousands of login credentials ($1,200). The agents sent payments to Mr. Miller via Western Union Comp. (
) money orders.
But when Mr. Miller offered to sell them access to the LBL supercomputer for $50,000 USD they arrested him. Mr. Miller was taken into custody in June 2012 and charge with
numerous computer fraud offenses
. His cohort Robert "Intel" Burns -- another UIA member -- pled guilty first, offering up evidence that the court used against Mr. Miller.
Faced with a likely unsuccessful fight to prove his innocence, on Tuesday Mr. Miller
entered a plea deal
[PDF] in which he reduced what could have been a sentence of 20 years, to 18 months behind bars, in exchange to pleading guilty to violations of:
18 U.S.C. § 371 "Conspiracy to Defraud the United States"
18 USC § 1030 "Fraud and related activity in connection with computers"
In addition to his time served Mr. Miller faces three years of court supervision and may be required to pay damages to some of his victims, if he has the means.
U.S. District Judge via Wired
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet. A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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