The prosecution of a Swedish man charged with breaching the computer networks of NASA and Cisco Systems and making off with sensitive source code will be transferred to Swedish authorities, US federal prosecutors said Monday.
Philip Gabriel Pettersson, aka "Stakkato," was indicted last May and accused of hacking into Cisco and stealing source code related to the company's widely used IOS, or Internetworking Operating System. He was just 16 at the time of the alleged theft.
Pettersson was also accused of breaching two NASA systems, one in May 2004 at the Ames Research Center and the other the following October at the Advanced Supercomputing Division.
The indictment charged Pettersson with five felonies, each carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Federal prosecutors in San Francisco, where the case was filed, said Monday the case was being transferred to authorities in Sweden. They did not explain the reason for the change.
"When the intrusions were committed Mr. Pettersson was a juvenile," Swedish prosecutor Chatrine Rudstrom wrote in a letter agreeing to accept the case. "He has already been convicted of several computer intrusions during the same period of time as the intrusions to Cisco Company and NASA and he received a conditional sentence. Either Mr. Pettersson will be prosecuted, and a court will try the case, or the prosecutor will decide to forbear to prosecute."
Under Swedish law, prosecutors can decline to press charges if there is an earlier conviction that provided a sentence that is "sufficient for the new crimes as well," Rudstrom stated.
The 2004 theft of Cisco IOS created a stir in security circles because it was feared the disclosure could make it easier for criminals to trespass on private networks that used the company's routers. News of the misappropriation surfaced after reports someone had filled IRC channels with some 800MB of code involving Cisco IOS 12.3 and 12.3t.
Cisco officials have said that since then, they don't believe customer or partner information or financial systems were affected. ®