Robert Butyka was detained Tuesday in Cluj Napoca, Romania's fourth most populated city, according to a news release issued by Romania's Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT). Butyka, who reportedly used the online alias “Iceman,” allegedly hacked into NASA's servers begining in Dec. 2010.
He then purportedly damaged data on the systems and restricted access to the information, causing major disruptions, according to Romanian authorities. Damage from Butyka's alleged actions cost the U.S. space agency $500,000.
Butyka faces various computer crime charges, including obtaining unauthorized access and causing serious disruption to a computer system, restricting access to data without authorization, and possessing hacking programs.
Authorities this week seized several computers at his home during a raid. He was ordered to spend 24 hours in police custody.
This is not the first time a Romanian hacker has been charged with breaking into NASA's systems. Victor Faur, 26, a native of the western Romanian town of Arad, in 2005 broke into systems belonging to NASA and other government agencies, causing $2 million in damages. In Nov. 2008, he was handed a 16-month prison sentence and ordered to pay $240,000 in damages to the U.S. government.
Faur is currently appealing the fine on the grounds that the U.S. government did not provide sufficient evidence of the monetary damages for which it claimed he was responsible.