Department of Justice Seal






TDD (202) 514-1888



Case marks first time a juvenile
hacker sentenced to serve time

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department announced today that a 16-year-old from Miami has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to six months in a detention facility for two acts of juvenile delinquency. Under adult statutes, those acts would have been violations of federal wiretap and computer abuse laws for intercepting electronic communications on military computer networks and for illegally obtaining information from NASA computer networks.

"Breaking into someone else's property, whether it is a robbery or a computer intrusion, is a serious crime," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "This case, which marks the first time a juvenile hacker will serve time in a detention facility, shows that we take computer intrusion seriously and are working with our law enforcement partners to aggressively fight this problem."

The juvenile, whose is known on the Internet as "c0mrade," admitted today in U.S. District Court in Miami that he was responsible for computer intrusions from August 23, 1999, to October 27, 1999, into a military computer network used by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). DTRA is an agency of the Department of Defense charged with reducing the threat to the U.S. and its allies from nuclear, biological, chemical, conventional and special weapons.

In pleading guilty, "c0mrade" also admitted that he gained unauthorized access to a computer server, known as a "router," located in Dulles, Va., and installed a concealed means of access or "backdoor" on the server. The program intercepted more than 3,300 electronic messages to and from DTRA staff. It also intercepted at least 19 user names and passwords of computer accounts of DTRA employees, including at least 10 user names and passwords on military computers.

"The Department of Defense takes seriously any threats against its information infrastructure," said Joseph A. McMillan, Special Agent in Charge of the DOD Mid Atlantic Field Office. "Any segments of society, be them adults or juveniles, which are intent on threatening DOD's information infrastructure, should be aware that steps will be taken to identify and thoroughly investigate their activities and seek the necessary judicial actions."

In addition to the computer intrusions at DOD, on June 29 and 30, 1999, "c0mrade" illegally accessed a total of 13 NASA computers located at the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., using two different ISPs to originate the attacks. As part of his unauthorized access, he obtained and downloaded proprietary software from NASA valued at approximately $1.7 million. The software supported the International Space Station's (ISS) physical environment, including control of the temperature and humidity within the living space.

As a result of the intrusions and data theft, the NASA computer systems were shut down for 21 days in July 1999. This shutdown resulted in a delivery delay of program software costing NASA approximately $41,000 in contractor labor and computer equipment replacement costs.

In addition to serving six months in a detention facility, as conditions of his guilty plea, "c0mrade" will write letters of apology to the Department of Defense and NASA and has agreed to the public disclosure of information about the case.

"This case represents a turning point on how the U.S.Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida will evaluate computer crimes committed by juveniles in the future," said U.S. Attorney in Miami Guy A. Lewis. "This case should send a clear message to our community that, given the appropriate case, we will aggressively prosecute to the full extent of the law."