The US government has accused four alleged hackers of being behind high-profile raids on the US military and several gaming studios, that stole over $100m worth of data.
Nathan Leroux, 20, Sanadodeh Nesheiwat, 28, David Pokora, 22, and Austin Alcala, 18, of McCordsville, Indiana, are accused of stealing US Army software used to train Apache helicopter pilots. They are also accused of stealing intellectual property from game developers behind such titles as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3.
Each defendent faces charges for conspiracy to commit computer fraud, copyright infringement, wire fraud, mail fraud, identity theft and theft of trade secrets. An unnamed Australian citizen has also been indicted for involvement in the raids.
Pokora and Nesheiwat pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and copyright infringement, and face up to five years in prison when they are sentenced in January.
The defendants reportedly broke into their victims' systems by stealing the usernames and passwords of company employees and their software development partners using an SQL injection attack.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) said the defendants were arrested following an international investigation.
The investigation involved the DoD, FBI, the Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs, US Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Patrol, US Postal Inspection Service, Western Australian Police and Peel Regional Police of Ontario, Canada.
Assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell listed the operation as proof that the US will prosecute cyber criminals regardless of their geographic location.
"The American economy is driven by innovation. But American innovation is only valuable when it can be protected. Today's guilty pleas show that we will protect America's intellectual property from hackers, whether they hack from here or from abroad," he said.
The arrests are one of many anti-cyber crime operations mounted by US law enforcement over the past year.
The FBI participated in a takedown operation against the infamous GameOver Zeus botnet in June, and played a leading role in the arrest of the founder of the Silk Road deep web black marketplace in October 2013.
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