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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Romanian Hackers Broke Into NASA

Romanian police have caught a 26-year-old hacker accused of breaking into several NASA servers, which caused $500,000 in damages.


The country’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism swooped on the Cluj home of a guy named Robert Butyka. According to media reports, he was known by the Internet handle of “Iceman”, but not known locally as the guy with all the brains. In fact, he has no higher education and is unemployed.

Apparently, within the last year, Butyka has hacked into a number of NASA servers, destroyed protected information and restricted access to the data. Robert Butyka has been charged with obtaining unauthorized access (which led to severe disruptions to a computer system), as well as with modifying, damaging and restricting access to information without authorization and possession of hacking software.

Local press reported that Butyka is sitting in a cell at the moment, while prosecutors are requesting for a court order that would allow to extend the detention period. They have already seized a few computers at Butyka’s home when they were searching it. Surprisingly enough, the United States hasn’t asked for an extradition order like it did in another case with Gary McKinnon. This means that the Romanians will have to try in him in their own country.

Actually, Robert Butyka isn’t the first Romanian hacker to target computer systems belonging to NASA. The matter is that for some reason the American space agency is a very popular target for Romanian hackers. For example, another Romanian named Victor Faur has also hacked into several servers owned by NASA, the American Department of Energy and the American Navy back in 2005. Today Faur is appealing a court ruling that ordered him to pay $240,000 in damages to the American government. Victor Faur has also received a 16-month suspended prison sentence three years ago. However, he keeps insisting that his activity didn’t damage the systems that were accessed without authorization. Faur’s legal defense team announced in the interview that the government of the United States had just picked a damages figure from the air. They also claimed that the plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient proof which would justify the damage calculation. 

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