College Student Gets 24 Months in Prison for Hacking the U.S. Navy Among Other High-Profile Institutions

One of the two leaders in the online cybergang known as Team Digi7al was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison, Thursday, for his role in the hacking of the United States Navy, U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and over 50 public and private computer systems belonging to high-profile institutions including the World Health Organization, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Library of Congress, Harvard College, two police departments and the Department of Homeland Security, according to U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams.

20-Year-Old Daniel Krueger of Illinois was arrested and taken into custody early May for the hacking scandal, who later pleaded guilty before U.S. District Attorney Judge James Payne on May 20th. Prior to Krueger’s arrest, he was a community college student who studied network administration at an Illinois state college.

Krueger’s co-conspirator, 27-year-old Nicholas Knight of Virgina, currently awaits sentencing scheduled for November 21, 2014. Prior to his arrest, Knight served as a system administrator in the nuclear reactor department of an aircraft carrier for the United States Navy. He was arrested aboard the USS Harry S. Truman at the time of the hacking incident.

Knight’s penalties may be stricter due to the fact that he worked alongside high-end sensitive government documents, and the Navy suffered data breaches during his time of active-duty.

In June 2012, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) detected a data breach of the United States Navy Smart Web Move (SWM) database, which stored personal records including Social Security numbers, names, and dates of birth for nearly 222,000 service members according to court documents. The SWM servers that experienced the breach were located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the time of the data breach, or what the court called a computer intrusion, Knight, Krueger and other Team Digi7al members posted links to the stolen documents leaked online on the Team Digi7al Twitter account, according to Judge Williams.

Investigators with the NCIS and Defense Criminal Investigate Service (DCIS) identified Knight and Krueger as the hackers in the cybergang after a sting operation aboard the USS Harry S. Truman was executed. The sting operation setup by the NCIS while aboard the Truman happened when Knight allegedly hacked into a phony database setup by federal authorities. Knight and Krueger later admitted to their roles in the hacking and the leaders behind the Team Digi7al conspiracy.

Reuters reported that the NCIS identified that Knight regularly accesses the Team Digi7al Twitter account from within the Navy’s own network while aboard the naval ship.

Knight, who has since been discharged from the Navy, allegedly described himself as a “nuclear black hat” fighting for the people and not the United States government he was employed by, Reuters added.

Three others believed to be involved in the Team Digi7al cybergang were not charged according to court documents.

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