[ISN] Pleasant Hill man, 21, takes credit as hacker
isn at c4i.org
Tue Mar 15 02:10:33 EST 2005
By Nathaniel Hoffman
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
March 12, 2005
A self-taught computer hacker from Pleasant Hill took credit Friday
for several high-level cyber break-ins.
Robert Lyttle, 21, pleaded guilty in federal court in Oakland to five
counts of hacking and defacing government computers.
Lyttle admitted in a plea agreement with the government to hacking
into NASA, Department of Defense and Department of Energy computers in
April 2002, costing the government agencies more than $70,000 to shore
up their security systems.
Within days of the attacks, according to a memo provided by Lyttle's
attorney, government computer operators began reinforcing their
"As a result of my actions, numerous Department of Defense and NASA
employees spent time applying proper security measures to the DLIS,
OHA, and NASA ARC computer systems and otherwise addressing the
intrusions," Lyttle admitted in his plea agreement.
That was the intention of the self-styled "hacktivist" all along.
Lyttle was one member of the Deceptive Duo, a pair of hackers who
claimed in a TechTV interview in 2002 to have broken into numerous
government, airline and banking networks as part of an effort to stave
off cyberterrorist attacks against the United States.
Lyttle and his partner, Benjamin Stark, called their hacks Operation
Inform and Operation Foreign Threat.
They broke into the government computers, captured confidential
information, including information on members of NASA's Astrobiology
Institute and then posted that information on publicly accessible
computers within the agencies.
Stark pleaded guilty late last year to hacking and fraud charges and
has been ordered to repay some of the cost incurred by the federal
The Contra Costa County District Attorney prosecuted Lyttle in 2000,
when he was still a juvenile, for tampering with computer systems,
according to Lyttle's plea agreement. He was still on court probation
when the Dynamic Duo launched its attacks.
The U.S. Attorney's Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Unit in
San Jose prosecuted Lyttle in the latest case. Christopher Sonderby,
chief of the hacking unit, said most of the computer intrusion crimes
the unit deals with are former employees hacking into company
networks, not government hacks.
"It's obviously serious misconduct that he pled guilty to," Sonderby
Lyttle will be sentenced in June and could face more than 26 years in
prison and more than $1 million in fines.
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