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Romanian police arrest Pentagon hack suspect

'Wolfenstein' cuffed

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Romanian police have arrested a hacker suspected of breaking into Pentagon systems and planting malware.

Eduard Lucian Mandru, 23, a business studies student from Iasi, Romania, is suspected of breaking into US Department of Defense systems in 2006. A criminal hacker nicknamed "Wolfenstein" accessed sensitive systems at that time, using compromised servers located in Japan in a bid to cover his tracks.

The cracker infected an unspecified number of systems with an unidentified information-stealing trojan before deleting access logs, Softpedia reports. US authorities say that damages in sorting out the resulting mess came to over $35,000.

One of the few leads investigators had to go on was a Yahoo email address - wolfenstein_ingrid@yahoo.com - linked to the attack. Mandru recently posted his CV on job-seeking websites giving this Yahoo address as his email contact, a blunder that reportedly put investigators on his trail. Police raided Mandru's home, seized computer equipment and took him into custody on Wednesday.

If found guilty of computer hacking offences, Mandru faces a prison term of between three and 12 years.

Victor Faur, AKA SirVic, another Romanian hacker alleged to have broken into US military systems, received a suspended prison sentence of 16 months. At the time of his arrest, the US-Romania extradition agreement then in force omitted hacking offences. A revamped extradition treaty does include hacking offences, making Mandru a possible candidate for extradition.

It's unclear if US authorities will take this option.

Although the apparent blunder that put investigators onto Mandru trail appears dumb, cybercrooks often make such mistakes.

"Hackers who deface police and military websites often leave email addresses," explained Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. Jeffrey Lee Parson, convicted author of a variant of the infamous Blaster worm, coded the malware to phone home for updates from a website he owned. He also wrote his online nickname (teekid) into the fabric of Blaster-B, Cluley added. ®

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