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Navy sailor pleads guilty to hacking from an aircraft carrier

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
May 21, 2014
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You may think that the US Navy's biggest digital threats come from the outside, but that's not always the case. Former Navy serviceman (and leader of the hacking group Team Digi7al) Nicholas Paul Knight has pleaded guilty to charges that he and co-defendant Daniel Kreuger conspired to steal identities from numerous internet sites, including a Navy personnel relocation system. Knight was caught after investigators realized that someone in Digi7al was posting on Twitter from the Navy's internal network -- as it turns out, the sailor was breaking into databases while he was a system administrator aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.

Both he and his partner in crime each face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, so they're unlikely to repeat their actions any time soon. However, court filings haven't revealed the exact extent of the damage. Given that Knight and crew also targeted organizations as diverse as the Library of Congress and Stanford University, a wide array of personal info may have escaped into the wild. No matter what, the convictions serve as a friendly reminder that government data security is only as strong as its weakest link -- all it takes is a lack of internal oversight to create big problems.

[Image credit: Official US Navy Page, Flickr]

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