Malaysian National Indicted for Hacking into Federal Reserve Bank

The Dept. of Justice issued the following press release about a case noted earlier today on this blog:

Defendant’s Criminal Activities Extended to the National Security Sector

A four-count indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Brooklyn today charging Lin Mun Poo, a resident and citizen of Malaysia, with hacking into a computer network of the Federal Reserve Bank and possessing more than 400,000 stolen credit and debit card numbers.1 The defendant was arrested on a criminal complaint shortly after his arrival in the United States on October 21, 2010, and has been held in custody since then. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Dora L. Irizarry.

The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Brian G. Parr, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, New York Field Office.

According to the government’s pleadings and a detention letter filed today, the defendant made a career of compromising computer servers belonging to financial institutions, defense contractors, and major corporations, among others, and selling or trading the information contained therein for exploitation by others. On October 21, 2010, the defendant traveled to the United States for the purpose of obtaining additional stolen financial account information from other hackers, which he planned to use and sell for his own profit. When he was arrested a few hours after his arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Secret Service agents seized his heavily encrypted laptop computer, which contained a massive quantity of financial account data and personal identifying information that he had allegedly obtained by hacking into various computer systems. The victims included FedComp, a data processor for federal credit unions. As a result, the defendant was able to gain unauthorized access to the data of various federal credit unions, such as the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York and the Mercer County New Jersey Teachers. The defendant also allegedly compromised the computer servers of a number of major financial institutions and companies, including a computer network of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Ohio, by exploiting a vulnerability he found therein.

The defendant’s cybercrime activities allegedly extended to the national security sector. According to the government’s pleadings and detention letter, in approximately August 2010, he hacked into the computer system of a Department of Defense contractor that provides systems management for military transport and other military operations, potentially compromising highly sensitive military logistics information.

“Cybercriminals continue to use their sophistication and skill as hackers to attack our financial and national security sectors,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “However, as this case demonstrates, they are no match for the cutting-edge investigative techniques of the Secret Service and the Department of Justice.” Ms. Lynch praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the Secret Service and the invaluable assistance provided by the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section and the Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

“As today’s technology continues to evolve, cybercriminals use these advances and enhancements to perpetrate an expanding range of crimes,” said Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Parr. “These crimes not only affect our nation’s financial infrastructure, but are also an ongoing threat to our national security. The Secret Service is committed to deploying cutting edge investigative practices and technology in order to bring these offenders to justice.”

If convicted of the most serious offenses, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cristina M. Posa and Melissa B. Marrus.

Bob McMillan of IDG News Service also covers the story on Computerworld and points us to the a DOJ court filing on the case.

What I really wonder about right now is how many of these banks, credit unions, and other targets even knew they had been breached, or was this all news to them?

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  1. Golde - November 22, 2010

    Fed Comp had a breach in 2007 that was reported in 2010 to the Maine AG. They report that they recently discovered a breach involving improper access to their database that occurred during “some portion of 2007.” Credit unions in 23 states were notified. FedComp says that they don’t know precisely what information was accessed or which — and how many — customers are
    affected. The information may have included the customers’ Names, addresses, Social Security Numbers, and dates of birth. I don’t see any other of the breaches listed.

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