An accused hacker was arrested in England Wednesday and is facing extradition to New Jersey where he’s facing charges of breaking into the computer systems of NASA and other federal agencies to steal reams of confidential data, federal prosecutors say.
Lauri Love, 29, was arrested in Stradishall, England on an extradition warrant issued by federal prosecutors in the U.S., authorities say.
Love was indicted in New Jersey in October 2013 on a charge of accessing the computer of a U.S. department or agency without authorization.
New Jersey federal prosecutors say Love managed to infiltrate computer networks for the U.S. Army, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency, causing millions of dollars in losses.
At the time of his arrest, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said the computer breach included personal information belonging to U.S. servicemen and women as well as military data.
“Such conduct endangers the security of our country and is an affront to those who serve,” Fishman said.
Prosecutors say that once Love and others broke into the computer systems, they placed hidden “shells” or “back doors” in the systems, which enabled them to return at a later date so they could steal confidential data.
They say Love and others plotted out their attacks in online chat forums known as “Internet relay chats” or “IRC.”
“You have no idea how much we can …. with the us government if we wanted to,” Love wrote in a July 2013 exchange with an unnamed accomplice, according to court records.
Their goal, prosecutors say, was to “disrupt the operations and infrastructure of the U.S. government.”
The breaches occurred between October 2012 and October 2013.