Threat Management

“Fourth of July” hacker jailed after hospital hack


A Dallas hospital guard was ordered to jail following his arrest on charges of breaking into computers, planting malicious software and planning a massive distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on the Fourth of July.

Jesse William McGraw, who calls himself "GhostExodus," 25, was leader of the hacker group "Electronik Tribulation Army," and worked the night shift at the Carrell Clinic hospital in Dallas. He had bragged online that he “infiltrated” the facility, according to an FBI complaint.

He appeared on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Dallas and now is being held without bail.

“McGraw appeared in court and probable cause was found,” Kathy Colvin, spokeswoman for the Dallas U.S. Attorney's office, told Thursday. “The judge ordered that he be detained."


McGraw broke into several computers, according to the complaint, including computers controlling the hospital's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, as well as PCs containing confidential patient information. He posted pictures on the internet of the compromised HVAC system, along with videos of him compromising the computer systems. He also posted videos that asked other hackers to assist him in mounting computer intrusions in support of a "massive DDoS" on July 4.

The arrest was prompted by an incident observed by Mississippi State University computer science student Wesley McGrew.

In a blog post, McGrew said that he was contacted by someone bragging about hacking a control system. He checked it out and found that the hack was actually performed by an attacker who went by the name of “GhostExodus,” later identified as McGraw.

“Screenshots taken by the attacker showed an HMI [human-machine interface, used to interact with mechanical devices] that gave the user control over many elements of the hospital, including pumps and chillers in the operating room,” McGrew wrote. “Messing around with a system like this can seriously impact the health and safety of the patients.”

McGrew said he contacted authorities and cooperated with the FBI. His information led to McGraw's arrest on Friday.

McGraw will remain in jail until a grand jury decides within 30 days whether to indict him.


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