The US government is currently prosecuting five people accused of hacking into targets around the world to expose secrets, the Guardian reports.
The five people, who were arrested in the US state of Washington, include Barry Lee “Barry” Williams, a former Army infantry officer, who was a member of a group that hacked the computer systems of the US Defence Intelligence Agency, known as DoDADT.
They also include two members of the hacking collective known as Anonymous.
The case is the first of its kind brought under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA, which is aimed at cracking down on the hacking of private companies.
Barry Williams, left, and the others who were convicted of hacking the DoDIDT website in August 2013.
Source: Reuters/Mike Copparotti/File PhotoBarry Lee Williams, the hacker who went to prison for 10 years for the NSA hackings, is among the five people who have been sentenced.
The Justice Department has said that Williams and his co-defendants were responsible for stealing information from the NSA and other US government agencies, including the Defence Intelligence Organisation, which has been responsible for the agency’s cybersecurity operations since the 1980s.
The charges stem from a 2015 breach of the DoLADT’s system, which the DoT said was part of the government’s attempt to learn about its systems and its ability to defend against hackers.
Williams and the other hackers were sentenced in September, but they did not have to spend time in prison.
According to the government, the five hackers hacked into the computers of three US government contractors, a contractor of the Federal Communications Commission, and a contractor working for the United Nations.
A US government official told Reuters that the defendants were sentenced under the CFAA because they were charged with breaking into DoD and its employees’ computers, as well as stealing confidential information.
“It’s a crime to break into another person’s computer, which they have the right to do,” the official said.
Anonymous members and supporters of Anonymous and others have called for a pardon for the five men, who received 10-year sentences. (Reuters) The Justice Department said that the five defendants were “under indictment by a federal grand jury charged with attempting to illegally access classified information” by using a computer that was owned by a US government contractor.
In a statement to the AP, the Department of Justice said that a computer network had been compromised during a cyber attack.
“The Government has established a case against five defendants, charged them with attempting, with the help of others, to illegally enter into a computer system owned by the United States Government,” the statement said.
“These defendants have pleaded guilty to the charges and will serve time in federal prison.”
Brett Doherty, a member and spokesman for Anonymous, has called for pardons for the hackers.
“Barry’s family and friends will be devastated by the sentence,” he told Reuters in an email.
“They have a right to be outraged at this blatant attack on the privacy of their son and the entire community of hackers.
These individuals should be in prison and no one should ever have a chance to escape the justice system.”
(Image: Reuters) (Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Sandra Maler)