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Swedish hacker indicted for Cisco Systems, NASA breach

The 21-year-old allegedly exploited an SSH vulnerability in 2004 to steal operating code from Cisco and hacked into NASA's Ames Research Center.

A Swedish national was indicted for his involvement in hacking into the networks of Cisco Systems Inc. and NASA.
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Philip Gabriel Pettersson, 21, a Swedish national, was indicted on intrusion and trade secret theft charges, according to a statement issued by the Department of Justice.

Pettersson, also known as "Stakkato," according to the Department of Justice, faces one intrusion count and two trade secret misappropriation counts for allegedly hacking into Cisco's network. The attack took place between May 12-13, 2004.

"During the alleged intrusion some Cisco Internetwork Operating System code was allegedly misappropriated," the Department of Justice said.

Petersson also faces two charges of intrusion for hacking into NASA's Ames Research Center and the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division, located at Moffett Field, Calif. The Department of Justice said the intrusions took place between May 19-May 20, 2004 and on Oct. 22, 2004.

The FBI worked closely with Swedish authorities to conduct the investigation.

The stolen data included information on how Cisco routers transmit Internet traffic, according to a report by the The New York Times. In a 2005 report on the intrusions, the Times said the intruder stole computer logins and passwords to conduct the attacks using a SSH vulnerability to install a malicious Trojan and gain administrative privileges on the network. The NASA attacks involved breaking into computers connected to TeraGrid, a high-speed data network serving several NASA labs.

Both Cisco and NASA acknowledge the intrusions and said the vulnerabilities have been patched.

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