Hacker pleads guilty to selling login credentials for US supercomputers

By on August 28, 2013, 4:30 PM
fbi, hacking, security, theft, supercomputer

Andrew James Miller, a 24-year old hacker from Pennsylvania, gained access to the Energy Department’s series of supercomputers and attempted to sell the pilfered login credentials to an undercover FBI agent. Today, Miller pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and computer fraud, and could receive up to 18 months in prison if he enters into a plea deal.

According to Wired, although this hacking feat was perhaps Miller’s largest heist, it certainly wasn’t his only one. He bragged to the undercover officer that he had also broken into the corporate servers of several major firms including Google, Adobe, WordPress, Yahoo, and American Express. His method of choice was deploying keyloggers on employee computers to lift their credentials.

To gain entrance to the supercomputer network, Miller first hacked into a Japanese university that had ties to the computers. To connect himself with a potential buyer, he went through Robert “Intel” Burns, a fellow member of the hacking group Underground Intelligence Agency. Burns voluntarily assisted authorities by putting Miller in touch with the FBI agent that all of the illegal transactions would later go through.

Miller started off relatively small, completing $1000 deals with the undercover officer for the corporate logins to Domino’s Pizza and global telecommunications provider RNKTel, among others. In building a case against Miller, one prosecutor explained, “With that administrator-level access, a bad actor could not only have accessed RNKTel’s confidential business records but could also have altered customer accounts to obtain, for free, the telecommunication services that RNKTel sells to its customers.”

Ratcheting up the risk as well as his potential gains, Miller requested $50,000 for “root” access to the supercomputers housed by the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in California. Due to their use in Energy Department-approved projects, these computers are among the most powerful in the world.

Needless to say, Miller was never paid the $50,000 he had asked for, and the feds subsequently used the undercover operation to build a very compelling case against him.




User Comments: 10

Got something to say? Post a comment
ikesmasher said:

Dont put him in jail, hire him and pay him good money to secure government systems.

I guess that would just be what I would do.

To protect against cyberattacks, you need someone who thinks like a cyberattacker.

Guest said:

"Dont put him in jail, hire him and pay him good money to secure government systems.

I guess that would just be what I would do.

To protect against cyberattacks, you need someone who thinks like a cyberattacker."

It's all about trust, they could fear he may turns his back against them when he has gain access to government systems

Guest said:

It's not just the fact that he should teach the govt how to secure their computers better, they should also teach their employees to not do something careless like getting a keylogger on their computer.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Pretty impressive.

1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Maybe Apple should take him under their wing try refine his one true ability... you know, the ability to successfully overcharge.

Satki said:

Dont put him in jail, hire him and pay him good money to secure government systems.

I guess that would just be what I would do.

To protect against cyberattacks, you need someone who thinks like a cyberattacker.

Why? Maybe after his sentence, but he still broke the law, and he did it for monetary gain.

Guest said:

Keyloggers .. is not hacking .. lol

that is just plan sneaking stealing...

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

He already did a wrong deed and then second trying to sell first wrong deed access to other people which is breaking the law. He'll now have to give up all rights his life will not be so free again.

ikesmasher said:

Why? Maybe after his sentence, but he still broke the law, and he did it for monetary gain.

He did it for monetary gain not intending to be directly malicious. He broke the law, but how many people in our country have the skills to do things of that level? not many. I guess I can see giving him a small sentence and then doing this, but its such a waste to let him rot.

Guest said:

Introducing the NEW 3 Stooges(!) :

- Manning (Chelsea, lol)

- Snowden

- Miller

Freaks of nature who are best put out to sea in a leaking boat with no paddles.

Not at all 'normal' by any physiological standard.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.