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Romanian NASA hacker fights 'inflated' damage assessment

SirVic reluctant to stump $240k for digi-vandalism

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A Romanian accused of hacking NASA is fighting against an order to pay damages to the space agency.

Victor Faur, 27, from Arad, Romania, was ordered to pay $240,000 in damages by a court after he was found responsible for breaking into multiple systems at NASA, along with computers at the Department of Energy and Navy systems. The break-ins took place between November 2005 and September 2006. He was indicted in the US on computer hacking and conspiracy charges.

The extradition treaty between Romania and the US at the time failed to cover computer hacking offences, so US authorities were unable to file for extradition and were left as spectators while Romanian justice ran its course.

Faur (AKA SirVic) left messages on machines he broke into ridiculing lax security and providing patching advice. At trial, he justified his actions by saying he was warning administrators about gaping security holes. US authorities, by contrast, said he was a vandal who caused damages put at $1.5m.

The Romanian court came down somewhere in the middle, handing down a 16-month suspended prison sentence alongside an order to pay $240,000 in damages to the US government back in November 2008, Softpedia reports. Faur's legal team is continuing to appeal against the damage assessment, arguing that it is "inflated".

His lawyers now plan to take the matter to superior courts, arguing that US authorities did not provide any proof of the damages the hacker allegedly caused. In the meantime, Faur is studying for a doctorate in computer science.

Whatever the eventual outcome of the case, it remains unlikely that the US government will ever be able to recoup the cost of repairing the various systems breaches caused by the Romanian hacker, according to Andy Kemshall, chief technology officer of multi-factor authentication firm SecurEnvoy.

"It's not just the cost of mopping up after the hacker(s), but it's the cost of putting things completely right after the event," he said. ®

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