Hackers Nabbed In Sting For Stealing $100 Million In IP From The US Army And Microsoft

Four members belonging to an international computer hacking ring have been indicted. The Justice Department released a press release that revealed the members were charged with breaking into the computer networks of tech companies and even the U.S. Army. The estimated value of the theft of intellectual property is said to be over $100 million.

“As the indictment charges, the members of this international hacking ring stole trade secret data used in high-tech American products, ranging from software that trains U.S. soldiers to fly Apache helicopters to Xbox games that entertain millions around the world,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.

The four men were identified as Nathan Leroux, 20, of Bowie, Maryland; Sanadodeh Nesheiwat, 28, of Washington, New Jersey; David Pokora, 22, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; and Austin Alcala, 18, of McCordsville, Indiana who were all charged with 18 counts that include conspiracies to commit computer fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, copyright infringement, identify theft, and theft of trade secrets.

They have been accused of allegedly hacking into the computer networks of Microsoft, Epic Games, Valve, Zombie Studios, and the U.S. Army. From there, they allegedly gained access to, and stole, unreleased software, trade secrets, financial information, software source code, and other sensitive information related to the companies and certain employees.

(Image Credit: Adam Thomas)

“The defendants and others allegedly obtained access to the victims’ computer networks through methods including SQL injection and the use of stolen usernames and passwords of company employees and their software development partners,” reads the official press release.

The cyber-theft’s included the stealing of Apache helicopter simulator software, technical specifications and information about the Xbox One before it was released, a pre-release version of Gears of War 3, and a pre-release version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. All of these crimes were committed during the time period of January 2011 to March 2014.

So far, Pokora and Nesheiwat have pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and copyright infringement. They have been scheduled for sentencing on January 13, 2015.

According to the press release, the department estimates the value of intellectual property and additional data stolen to range from $100 million to $200 million dollars. To date, $620,000 in cash has been seized, along with other proceeds, by the U.S. that is related to the charges.

A fifth man, who lives in Australia, has also been indicted and was identified by Australian media as 19-year-old Dylan Wheeler from Perth. He has been charged under Australian law for his alleged role in the scheme.