Fed sites hacker could spend a decade in jail

NASA's inspector general has announced that William Douglas Word of Pelham, Ala., faces up to 10 years in prison after entering guilty pleas last month to 17 counts of defacing government Web pages and one count of possessing counterfeit or unauthorized credit cards.

Word pleaded guilty to defacing sites of NASA, Defense Department agencies, Interior Department and the International Trade Commission, among others, according to a grand jury indictment handed down in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Much of the criminal activity occurred in late 1999, the inspector general said.

Word originally was charged with 40 counts of malicious injury or destruction to a means of communication operated by the government. The NASA IG's office investigated the crime together with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI. James E. Phillips, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, prosecuted the case.

Word 'was rolled up in a group of hackers that decided to turn themselves in after we got close to confronting them,' a NASA official said. 'This was the typical hacker case where they were demonstrating their skills.'

Word is to be sentenced April 24.

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