A former security guard has pleaded guilty to compromising more than a dozen computers that belonged to the hospital he was supposed to be protecting and posting some of his exploits on YouTube.
Jesse William McGraw, 25, called himself Ghost Exodus in videos such as this one as he wandered the halls of the North Central Medical Plaza in Dallas during the graveyard shift. He used his physical access to the facility's PCs to install bots so he could launch attacks on a rival hacking gang, prosecutors said. The compromised machines included a nurse's station computer for tracking patients and one that controlled the HVAC, or heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.
Last summer, Federal prosecutors charged McGraw with planning a "massive" denial of service attack on the HVAC system. He allegedly scheduled it for the July 4 Independence Day holiday, when it wouldn't be uncommon for temperatures to exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. He called it "Devil's Day."
According to court documents, hospital officials had experienced problems with their HVAC units and were perplexed that none of the system alarms had gone off as programmed. Around the same time, screenshots posted online showed the HVAC control windows for the hospital's surgery unit with a test alarm setting turned to "inactive," prosecutors said.
"You almost can't help it ya know," the poster, who called himself Ghost Exodus wrote, according to court documents. "It must be done!"
In the YouTube video, Ghost Exodus narrates his infiltration of a "very large corporate office" as the theme song to Mission Impossible plays in the background. He was an employee for a security company called United Protection Services and was also the leader of a hacking group called "Electronik Tribulation Army," prosecutors said.
He was apprehended by the FBI shortly after the screenshots and video came to the attention of a then 29-year-old PhD network security researcher at Mississippi State University. The researcher, Wesley McGrew, helped to identify Jesse McGraw by combining some of the postings with a help wanted ad posted on Craigslist.
Jesse McGraw pleaded guilty to two felony counts of transmitting a malicious code. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000. Sentencing is scheduled for September 16. ®