An alleged international computer hacking ring has been charged with stealing $100m of software including Apache helicopter pilot training programs.
Two of the four members charged – a 28-year-old New Jersey man and a 22-year-old Canadian man – pleaded guilty to charges contained in an indictment unsealed earlier in the day, the US Justice Department said yesterday.
Prosecutors accused the group of logging into a US Army network to steal simulator software for the Boeing Apache attack helicopter after they had hacked into the network of Zombie Studios, a Seattle-based video game developer contracted by the army to make the training software.
The men allegedly obtained access to the computer networks partly by using the stolen usernames and passwords of employees at the partner firms.
The ring was also accused of gaining unauthorised access to the computer networks of Microsoft and some of its partners between January 2011 and March 2014 to steal source code, technical specifications and other information.
Some of the intrusions were directed at the Xbox One gaming console before its November 2013 release and the hackers tried to build a counterfeit version of the console, according to the indictment.
The hackers also stole information about pre-release versions of the 'Gears of War 3' and 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3' video games, prosecutors said. Microsoft declined to comment on the case.
Sanadodeh Nesheiwat of Washington, New Jersey, and David Pokora of Mississauga, Ontario, pleaded guilty to charges in Delaware federal court, the Justice Department said.
Nathan Leroux, 20, of Bowie, Maryland, and Austin Alcala, 18, of McCordsville, Indiana, were also charged in an 18-count superseding indictment. A fifth member of the ring, an Australian citizen, was charged under Australian law for his alleged role in the conspiracy, the agency said.
Tuesday's charges marked the second big hacking case announced by the Department of Justice this year. In May, the agency charged five Chinese military officers and accused them of hacking into American nuclear, metal and solar companies to steal trade secrets.