Federal prosecutors revealed on Monday that British citizen Lauri Love was arrested in the U.K. for allegedly hacking databases of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency and NASA, but it is unclear whether he will be extradited to America for trial.
British officials arrested Love on Friday in the U.K. for violating that nation's Computer Misuse Act, and he is also charged in New Jersey District Court for the unauthorized breach of computer networks between October 2012 and October 2013, said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in a statement. Federal prosecutors made public the indictment against Love on Monday. Love, a resident of Stranishall, U.K., is facing charges in New Jersey because he allegedly sent data through a server in that state, but he is also facing similar charges of computer hacking in the Eastern District of Virginia.
The filing also lists two other co-conspirators believed to reside in or near Australia and a third co-conspirator believed to reside in or near Sweden, who are not charged.
"Love and conspirators hacked into thousands of networks, including many belonging to the United States military and other government agencies," Fishman said. "As part of their alleged scheme, they stole military data and personal identifying information belonging to servicemen and women. Such conduct endangers the security of our country and is an affront to those who serve."
The hacks were conducted through "back doors" within the networks that allowed repeated intrusions on the networks once they were compromised.
It is unclear what the purpose of the hacks were, and "it is too early to talk about" whether Love will be extradited to the U.S. for trial, says Rebekah Carmichael, spokesperson for the New Jersey U.S. Attorney's Office.
"We are going to be in contact with our counterparts in the U.K. to determine the best way forward," Carmichael says.
These hacks represent the ability of U.S. and UK officials to cooperate on cybersecurity crime enforcement, but they also illustrate the increasing risk of computer intrusions to national security and the military, according to a public statement from Daniel Andrews, director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command's Computer Crime Investigative Unit.
"The borderless nature of Internet-based crime underscores the need for robust law enforcement alliances across the globe," Andrews said.