A New York programmer is charged with helping a group of hackers break into corporate networks to pilfer corporate data.
Stephen Watt, 25, was charged in U.S. District Court with providing a modified sniffer program used to monitor and capture data, including customers credit and credit card information, as it traveled across corporate computer networks.
Watt's indictment is believed to be tied to the massive data security breach at TJX Cos. Inc. as well as several other retailers. TJX officials admitted that more than 45 million credit and debit cards were stolen over an 18-month period by hackers who managed to penetrate its Wi-Fi network. The retailer has been criticized for collecting too much consumer data and failing to upgrade its Wi-Fi security to the stronger WPA encryption protocol.
Investigators said Watt was allegedly part of a conspiracy to gain access to corporate networks using various techniques between 2003 and 2008. Watt is one of more than 10 people charged in connection to a string of data security breaches, including the TJX breach.
Watt is charged with a single count of conspiracy and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's office in Massachusetts.