LexisNexis hacker gets a year in jail

A Massachusetts resident who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and identity theft has been sentenced to one year in jail by a Florida court.

Justin A. Perras was one of five co-defendants who admitted hacking into computers at information management provider LexisNexis. He was sentenced to one year in prison, three years supervised release and 100 hours of community service.

The fraudsters infected and hijacked the organization’s computers and used social engineering techniques to access information, including login usernames and passwords stored in the company’s Accurint database, prosecutors said in numerous press reports.

The group also used a trojan to break into a Port Orange, Fla. police computer to steal personal information, according to a report in the Dayton Beach News-Journal.

Law enforcement and other agencies use the database to obtain information on individuals.

The other defendants were sentenced in December for their roles in the plot and between them must pay LexisNexis $105,750 in compensation.

All five offenders have been banned from using computers, according to press reports.

The authorities investigated the case after receiving a complaint from Seisint, the company which owns Accurint.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said that authorities may have reacted quicker because of the database that was hacked.

"The U.S. authorities must be congratulated for another big computer hacking arrest, which will hopefully deter others from following in the footsteps of Perras, who’s going nowhere fast for the next few years," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "It’s likely that with Accurint, the fact that it was used by law enforcement agencies gave the U.S. Secret Service an extra spring in its step in tracking down the perpetrators."

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