An international cyber criminal with a resume that includes breaking into computers maintained by NASA, the Pentagon, the Israeli parliament, and Hamas has been indicted in New York for conspiracy and fraud involving access devices.
Between February and May of this year, Ehud Tenenbaum - who once went under the moniker The Analyzer - "did knowingly and with intent to defraud effect transactions with one or more access devices issued to another person or persons," according to a grand jury indictment filed Monday in Brooklyn. It charges him with two felonies: access device fraud and conspiracy to commit access device fraud.
Tenenbaum, whose hacks into the US Department of Defense in the late 1990s were once mistaken as the handiwork of Saddam Hussein, faces a maximum prison sentence of 30 years if convicted. He is being held in Calgary, Alberta, and US authorities are in the process of extraditing him now.
Officials with the US Attorney's Office in Brooklyn declined to elaborate on the allegations. In early September, Wired.com reported the 29-year-old Tenenbaum and three Canadian accomplices allegedly broke into computers belonging to Direct Cash Management, a Calgary-based seller of prepaid debit and credit cards. They allegedly withdrew about $1.7m using ATMs in several countries.
The alleged scheme involved the purchase of low-value cards, typically with balances of about $15. Tenenbaum would then exploit SQL injection vulnerabilities in Direct Cash's server to increase the value of the cards. The amount of a single card was inflated to more than $1m, Calgary officials told Wired.com.
He was arrested last month along with three alleged accomplices - identified as Priscilla Mastrangelo, 30, Jean Francois Ralph, 28, and Sypros Xenoulis, 33. They were released on bail. Tenenbaum was also granted bail, but prior to his release, US officials obtained a provisional warrant requiring Canadian officials retain him in custody.
Bob Nordoza, spokesman for the US Attorney's Office in Brooklyn, declined to say if Tenenbaum's alleged Calgary accomplices would be charged. Attorneys for all four suspects could not be reached for comment.
Tenenbaum's stock in trade involved a combination of sniffer and Trojan programs along with the exploitation of well-known vulnerabilities in the Solaris operating system that many of his victims never bothered to patch. His assault on unclassified systems in the Pentagon in 1998 led then-US Secretary of Defense John Hamre to declare them "the most organized and systematic attack to date" on US military computers.
Tenenbaum's involvement in the attacks were later uncovered through an investigation dubbed "Solar Sunrise." It was started after US officials mistook the attacks as the work of Iraqi operatives. In 2000, he admitted cracking US and Israeli computers and pleaded guilty to wrongful infiltration of computerized material, disruption of computer use and other charges. He was sentenced in Israel to just six months of community service. ®