Swedish Hacker Charged with Network Intrusions at Cisco and NASA

Philip Gabriel Pettersson indicted on charges including stealing source code of Cisco's Internetworking Operating System.

by / May 7, 2009

Swedish national Philip Gabriel Pettersson, aka "Stakkato," was indicted earlier this week on charges of network intrusion and theft of trade secrets.

The five-count indictment includes one count of intrusion and two trade secret misappropriation counts involving Cisco Systems as well as two counts of intrusion into National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) computers.

The indictment alleges Pettersson broke into Cisco's network between May 12, 2004, and May 13, 2004, and stole code from Cisco's Internetworking Operating System, which is at the heart of many of the routers and switches that direct Internet traffic. The intrusions at NASA involved computers at the Ames Research Center and the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division, located at Moffett Field, Calif.  According to a CNN report, the intruder accessed unclassified weather information while inside the agency's computer system. The indictment alleges Pettersson committed these intrusions on May 19, 2004, May 20, 2004 and Oct. 22, 2004. 

Cisco and NASA cooperated in the government's investigation, the Justice Department said in a news release. Following the incident, Cisco reported that it did not believe any customer information, partner information or financial systems were affected.

The Justice Department is continuing to work with the Swedish authorities on the case.

The maximum penalty for each charge of intrusion and theft of trade secrets is 10 years in prison, a three year term of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.