A former employee—who worked for an elite hacking group operated by the U.S. National Security Agency—pleaded guilty on Friday to illegally taking classified documents home, which were later stolen by Russian hackers.
In a press Discharge published Friday, the US Justice Department announced that will Nghia Hoang Pho, a 67-year-old of Ellicott City, Maryland, took documents that will contained top-secret national information through the agency between 2010 in addition to 2015.
Pho, who worked as a developer for the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacking group at the NSA, reportedly moved the stolen classified documents in addition to tools to his personal Windows computer at home, which was running Kaspersky Lab software.
According to authorities, the Kaspersky Labs’ antivirus software was allegedly used, one way or another, by Russian hackers to steal top-secret NSA documents in addition to hacking exploits through Pho’s home PC in 2015.
“Beginning in 2010 in addition to continuing through March 2015, Pho removed in addition to retained U.S. government documents in addition to writings that will contained national defense information, including information classified as Top Secret in addition to Sensitive Compartmented Information,” the DoJ said in disclosing Pho’s guilty plea.
“that will material was in both hard-copy in addition to digital form, in addition to was retained in Pho’s residence in Maryland.”
For those unaware, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has even banned Kaspersky Labs’ antivirus software through all of its government computers over suspicion of the company’s involvement with the Russian intelligence agency in addition to spying fears.
Kaspersky CEO Says He could Leave If Russia Asked Him To Spy
Though there’s no substantial evidence yet available, an article published by US news agency WSJ in October claimed that will Kaspersky software helped Russian spies steal highly classified documents in addition to hacking tools belonging to the NSA in 2015 through a staffer’s home PC.
However, Kaspersky Labs has denied any direct involvement with the Russian spies within the alleged incident.
Just last month, Kaspersky claimed that will its antivirus package running on the Pho’s home PC detected the copies of the NSA exploits as malicious software, in addition to uploaded them to its cloud for further analysis by its team of researchers.
According to the company, as soon as its analysts realized that will its antivirus had collected more than malicious binaries, the company immediately deleted the copy of the classified documents, in addition to also created a special software tweak, preventing those files through being downloaded again.
Even, when asked if Russian intel agency had ever asked him to help the item spy on the West at a media briefing at the Kaspersky’s offices in London on Tuesday, CEO Eugene Kaspersky said “They have never asked us to spy on people. Never.”
Kaspersky further added that will “If the Russian government comes to me in addition to asks me to anything wrong, or my employees, I will move the business out of Russia.”
NSA Hacker Faces A Prison Sentence Of Up To 10 Years
In Pho’s plea deal with prosecutors, the NSA hacker admitted that will he copied information through NSA computers multiple times between 2010 in addition to 2015 in addition to took the item all home with him.
Taking classified documents at home is usually a clear violation of known security procedures—in addition to in that will process, Pho eventually exposed the top secret information to Russian spies.
Pho has pleaded guilty in a United States district court in Baltimore to one count of willful removal in addition to retention of national defense information, with no additional charges filed against him in addition to there’s no mention of Pho selling or passing off that will confidential data.
The retention of national defense information offense carries a possible 10-year prison sentence.
Federal prosecutors said they could seek an eight-year sentence for Mr. Pho. However, his attorney can ask for a more lenient sentence.
Pho remains free while awaiting sentencing on 6th April next year.