- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2017

A British man pleaded guilty Thursday to hacking a Pentagon satellite system in 2014 and accessing the personal information of hundreds of military personnel.

Sean Caffrey, 25, pleaded guilty at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday to violating Britain’s federal anti-hacking statute, the Computer Misuse Act, in connection with breaching an international satellite message dissemination system used by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.K. authorities announced afterwards.

Caffrey “accessed and stole the ranks, usernames and email addresses” of over 800 users of the Pentagon communications system, in addition to information involving approximately 30,000 satellite phones, the U.K. National Crime Agency said in a statement.

The DOD breach occurred in June 2014, according to the NCA, and evidence of the intrusion was shared two months later on the website Pastebin along with a message referencing Lizard Squad, a hacking group credited with waging high-profile attacks that year against targets including the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.

“We smite the Lizards, LizardSquad your time is near. We’re in your bases, we control your satellites. The missiles shall rein upon thy who claim alliance, watch your heads,” wrote the author of the Pastebin post.

Caffrey was arrested in March 2015 nearly a year after the breach but remained unidentified prior to Thursday’s plea hearing.

“After strong partnership working between the NCA, the FBI and the DoD’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service there was very clear, very compelling evidence against Sean Caffrey,” Janey Young, investigations manager at the NCA, said Thursday. “No one should think that cyber crime is victimless or that they can get away with it.

The NCA’s statement lacks specifics with respect to the evidence against Caffrey but said that authorities found the stolen DOD data after conducting a forensic examination of his hard drives.

“NCA officers also found that an online messaging account linked to the attack had been opened and operated under a pseudonym using Caffrey’s computers,” the statement said.

In all the intrusion cost the Pentagon approximately $628,000, according to NCA. No sensitive data detrimental to national security interests were compromised as a result of the breach, the NCA said previously.

Caffrey is scheduled to be sentenced August 14.

“As a matter of policy, the department can neither confirm nor deny the existence of ongoing investigation,” a Justice Department spokesperson told The Washington Times on Thursday.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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