Hacker pleads guilty to damaging Energy lab's system

Hacker pleads guilty to damaging Energy lab's system

A 22-year-old Minnesota man pleaded guilty Monday to hacking into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's computer network in 1999, according to a Justice Department statement.

Benjamin Troy Breuninger, also known as Kon or Konceptor, faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 plus reimbursement for the damage he caused to the Energy Department network.

Judge D. Lowell Jensen will sentence Breuninger April 12 in the U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif., on a count of felony computer hacking, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. His sentence will take into account several factors, the office said, and will be imposed at the discretion of Judge Jensen.

In pleading guilty, Breuninger admitted that on Nov. 3, 1999, he hacked into the laboratory's unclassified network and left behind a program that gave him continued access and further control of the system. Over the next 10 days, he re-entered the system and downloaded budget material and other data. Repairing the damage he caused cost more than $20,000, the Justice statement said.

The incident prompted a 21-month investigation by the Technology Crimes Section of Energy's Office of Inspector General and FBI's Computer Intrusion Squad.

Breuninger was indicted by a federal grand jury last September on one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer and recklessly causing damage.

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