Four men part of an alleged international computer hacking ring have been charged with stealing $100 million of United States military technology as well as technology regarding Microsoft’s Xbox One console.
The United States Justice Department said Tuesday, four men, between the ages of 18 to 28, have been accused of breaking into servers of high-profile technology companies along with the U.S. Army. The alleged theft included stealing proprietary software used to train Apache helicopter pilots as well as source code and technical specifications related to Microsoft’s Xbox One gaming console as well as pre-release game copies of ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’ and ‘Gears of War 3’.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said the scheme ran from January 2011 to March 2014, and the four men involved are alleged to have hacked in the computer networks of Microsoft Corporation, Epic Games Inc., Valve Corporation, Zombie Studios and the United States Army. The Department of Justice alleges hackers to have gained access to victims’ computer networks though various methods, including SQL injections, along with gaining access via stolen employee usernames and passwords. Once inside, hackers stole unreleased software, software source code, trade secrets, copyrighted and pre-release works and other confidential and proprietary information. The FBI said men also allegedly stole “financial and other sensitive information relating to the companies—but not their customers—and certain employees of such companies.”
According to the FBI, the four individuals conspired to “use, share and sell the stolen information,” and federal officials have already seized $620,000 in stolen assets.
Individuals being charged are Nathan Leroux, 20, of Bowie, Maryland; Sanadodeh Nesheiwat, 28, of Washington, New Jersey; David Pokora, 22, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; and Austin Alcala, 18, of McCordsville, Indiana.
The four men are being charged with conspiracies to commit computer fraud, copyright infringement, wire fraud, mail fraud, identity theft and theft of trade secrets. The defendants are also being charged with individual counts of aggravated identity theft, unauthorized computer access, copyright infringement and wire fraud, according to a the FBI press release.
Two of the four apprehended, Pokora and Nesheiwat, have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and copyright infringement and are currently awaiting sentencing scheduled for January. The United States Department of Justice said Pokora’s plea is “believed to be the first conviction of a foreign-based individual for hacking into U.S. businesses to steal trade secret information.”
The Department of Justice says the two men were apart of the hacker ring known as “Xbox Underground”.
Pokora and Nesheiwat have pleaded guilty to a number of conspiracy charges and may face up to five years in federal prison. Other sources have reported people outside the U.S. may as well have been involved in a number of conspiracies and are currently under investigation.