Romanian charged with hacking NASA systems

NASA’s computer systems seem to be a playground for hackers, particularly Romanians.

In the most recent case, the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism announced Nov. 15 that it had arrested Robert Butyka, 26, in Cluj-Napoca, a city in Western Romania, for hacking into NASA’s servers and causing $500,000 in damage.

A DIICOT spokesperson said Butkya, who goes by the name “Iceman,” is unemployed and does not have a higher education, Network World reported.

Butkya is charged with hacking into several NASA servers, destroying and restricting access to protected data, starting Dec. 12, 2010. Charges include unauthorized access, severely disrupting a computer system, modifying, damaging and restricting access to data without authorization and possessing hacking programs.

Authorities seized several computers at his home during a raid, reported Network World.

NASA has been a repeated hacker target and Butkya is not the first Romanian to break into NASA’s computer systems. Earlier this year another Romanian hacker, who goes by the name TinKode, broke into NASA’s Goddard Center, GCN reported.

In 2006, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted Victor Faur for hacking 150 government computers, including systems at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Goddard Space Flight Center, reported GCN in December of that year.

Butkya will be tried in Romania, which has no extradition treaty.

Meanwhile, the United States has been trying for nearly a decade to extradite British hacker Gary McKinnon, who in 2001 and 2002 allegedly broke into 97 military and NASA computers.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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