News Worms
News Worms

Former NSA Employee Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Information

Former NSA Employee Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Information

In 2016, the Department of Justice charged Hal Martin, also a contractor with Booz Allen, with storing classified NSA documents in his home.

Pho took the documents home to help him write his resume but hackers are believed to have accessed them through antivirus software made by Kaspersky Lab, The New York Times reported Friday based on interviews with unnamed government officials. According to the US Department of Justice (DoJ), from 2010 to 2015, Pho "removed and retained" classified information, which he stored in his home in both hard copy and in digital form.

Pho entered into a plea agreement last month on the count of willfully retaining national defense information.

An elite National Security Agency hacker has pleaded guilty to illegally taking his work home - and in the process, to have inadvertently provided the Russian government with highly sensitive U.S. hacking tools. The Vietnam-born American citizen, who lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, faces roughly six to eight years in the clink, with sentencing set for April next year.

"Beginning in 2010 and continuing through March 2015, Pho removed and retained USA government documents and writings that contained national defense information, including information classified as Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information", the US Department of Justice said in disclosing Friday's guilty plea.

Reality Winner, 25, a former Air Force linguist who worked as an NSA contractor at a facility in Augusta, Georgia, was charged in June with copying a classified US report and mailing it to a news organization.

Starting in April 2006, Pho worked as a developer in the National Security Agency's Tailored Access Operations unit, which is involved in cyber operations.

Documents released by the Justice Dept. accuse Pho of removing top secret information from the agency over a five yer period through March 2015. In October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russian government hackers had stolen NSA tools from a contractor who had taken them home and viewed them on his home computer, which ran Kaspersky antivirus.

Kaspersky has acknowledged that its software lifted hacking tools from a home computer in 2014, but said it was not part of an intentional effort to steal information from the NSA.

The company's founder Eugene Kaspersky previously said he believes that his company's products were exploited to obtain files from Pho's computer.

The case is one of several major breaches at the NSA since the Edward Snowden disclosures in 2013.

The Times reported that Pho is now free, while awaiting sentencing in April 2018.


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