USA Indicts Alleged Corporate Cyberattacker
CHICAGO (CN) - A Tennessee man affiliated with the "NullCrew" hacking group conspired to launch cyber attacks on two universities and three companies, federal prosecutors say in an indictment.
Police last week arrested Timothy French, 20, at his home in Morristown, Tenn.
French used the aliases "Orbit," "@Orbit," "@Orbit_g1rl," "crysis," "rootcrysis," and "c0rps3" to launch computer attacks with other members of NullCrew that captured thousands of username and password combinations, prosecutors claim.
According to the indictment, NullCrew announced on Twitter in 2012, "We are not LulzSec, UGNazi, TeaMp0isoN, or even Anonymous. This is the start of something big, and its only just the beginning," citing other famous hacking groups.
Shortly afterward, the same Twitter account announced an attack on a foreign government's ministry of defense, and released more than 3,000 user names and passwords belonging to members of the ministry, according to the indictment.
"As part of the investigation, the FBI has been working with a confidential witness, who was invited to join online chats with members of NullCrew. During those chats, NullCrew members discussed past, present, and future computer hacks; shared current computer vulnerabilities and planned targets; and discussed releases of their victim's information. These chats occurred through Skype, Twitter, and CryptoCat," prosecutors say in the 24-page indictment.
Members discussed their attacks on three unnamed universities and two unnamed companies from a computer server in Chicago to which they gained unauthorized access, according to the indictment. The FBI obtained the records from this server during its investigation of NullCrew's hacks.
French's activities allegedly "caused a loss aggregating at least $5,000 in value to one or more persons during a one-year period," the indictment states.
The FBI tracked down 0rbit's real identity after French told NullCrew members during separate Skype chats that his real first name was Timothy, that he lived in Tennessee, and that "four hours ago I was in a bad car wreck." The confidential witness then asked what 0rbit was driving, and French said, "It's a 1996 camaro, automatic; v6 305 engine," information the FBI used to identify him via his driving record, the indictment shows.