Threat Management

Four men charged with stealing Microsoft and U.S. Army trade secrets

Four members of an international hacking group were charged with breaking into the systems of various technology companies and the U.S. Army, to steal more than $100 million worth of intellectual property and proprietary data.

Nathan Leroux, 20, of Bowie, Md.; Sanadodeh Nesheiwat, 28, of Washington, N.J.; David Pokora, 22, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; and Austin Alcala, 18, of McCordsville, Ind., allegedly stole software and data relating to Xbox One and Xbox Live “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” and “Gears of War 3” games, and software used to train military Apache helicopter pilots, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) release. Charges against the men include conspiracies to commit computer fraud, copyright infringement, wire fraud, mail fraud, identity theft and theft of trade secrets. They're also facing individual counts of aggravated identity theft, unauthorized computer access, copyright infringement and wire fraud.

Through SQL injection and stolen logins, the men allegedly accessed the systems of Microsoft Corporation, Epic Games Inc., Valve Corporation, Zombie Studios and the U.S. Army to steal trade secrets and turn them around for profit.

The initial indictment in April indicated that the men used the stolen information to build counterfeit versions of the Xbox One, which they sold on eBay for $5,000.

Two of the men, Pokora and Nesheiwat, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and copyright infringement. Pokora was arrested in March when he attempted to enter the U.S. in New York, and his plea marks the first conviction of a foreign-based individual for hacking into U.S. businesses to steal trade secret information.

The DOJ estimates that the intellectual property and other stolen data cost between $100 million and $200 million.

An Australian man was also charged under Australian law for allegedly participating in this scheme.

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