Feds collar chap who allegedly sneaked home US hacking blueprints

Bloke, 51, worked at Snowden's old haunt Booz Allen


An American who worked at the same intelligence contractor as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been charged with the theft of classified documents.

Harold Martin, 51, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, was arrested in late August after the FBI raided his house and storage shed, allegedly finding a number of top secret documents he had taken home without permission.

It is believed the files included source code for exploiting software vulnerabilities to hijack systems used by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

"These documents were produced through sensitive government sources, methods, and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues," US prosecutors said on Wednesday.

"The disclosure of the documents would reveal those sensitive sources, methods, and capabilities."

US Department of Justice lawyers said in an unsealed court document that Martin had been granted top secret security clearance through his work as a private contractor with the government. Specifically, Martin was employed by military contractor Booz Allen Hamilton when he was cuffed by the Feds – the same outfit Snowden worked for when he took off to Hong Kong with a clutch of super top-secret NSA files in 2013.

In a statement today, Booz Allen said it has fired Martin and offered its "total cooperation" to investigators. Curiously, Martin's home has been scrubbed from Google Street View.

We're told Martin took home with him printed and digital documents at least six of which were designated as top secret by Uncle Sam. The DoJ noted that Martin cooperated with g-men when they turned up at his home to search it for the missing material.

While the DoJ is not providing details on the documents themselves, the filing notes that the dossiers contain intelligence gathered in 2014 and "were produced through sensitive government sources, methods, and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues."

"The documents have been reviewed by an original classification authority of the government and, in each instance, the authority has determined that the documents are currently and properly classified at the TOP SECRET level, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States," the filing reads.

The filing does not disclose what Martin is said to have planned to do with the stolen documents – it is suggested he allegedly made an operational security blunder rather than seek to leak the contents of the blueprints. If convicted, he could face more than a decade behind bars.

The US government has hit Martin with charges of theft of government property, carrying a maximum of 10 years in prison, and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, which carries a maximum of one year in prison.

"Hal Martin loves his family and his country. There is no evidence that he intended to betray his country," lawyers for Martin said on Wednesday. ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Ransomware encrypts files, demands three good deeds to restore data
    Shut up and take ... poor kids to KFC?

    In what is either a creepy, weird spin on Robin Hood or something from a Black Mirror episode, we're told a ransomware gang is encrypting data and then forcing each victim to perform three good deeds before they can download a decryption tool.

    The so-called GoodWill ransomware group, first identified by CloudSEK's threat intel team, doesn't appear to be motivated by money. Instead, it is claimed, they require victims to do things such as donate blankets to homeless people, or take needy kids to Pizza Hut, and then document these activities on social media in photos or videos.

    "As the threat group's name suggests, the operators are allegedly interested in promoting social justice rather than conventional financial reasons," according to a CloudSEK analysis of the gang. 

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft Azure to spin up AMD MI200 GPU clusters for 'large scale' AI training
    Windows giant carries a PyTorch for chip designer and its rival Nvidia

    Microsoft Build Microsoft Azure on Thursday revealed it will use AMD's top-tier MI200 Instinct GPUs to perform “large-scale” AI training in the cloud.

    “Azure will be the first public cloud to deploy clusters of AMD's flagship MI200 GPUs for large-scale AI training,” Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott said during the company’s Build conference this week. “We've already started testing these clusters using some of our own AI workloads with great performance.”

    AMD launched its MI200-series GPUs at its Accelerated Datacenter event last fall. The GPUs are based on AMD’s CDNA2 architecture and pack 58 billion transistors and up to 128GB of high-bandwidth memory into a dual-die package.

    Continue reading
  • New York City rips out last city-owned public payphones
    Y'know, those large cellphones fixed in place that you share with everyone and have to put coins in. Y'know, those metal disks representing...

    New York City this week ripped out its last municipally-owned payphones from Times Square to make room for Wi-Fi kiosks from city infrastructure project LinkNYC.

    "NYC's last free-standing payphones were removed today; they'll be replaced with a Link, boosting accessibility and connectivity across the city," LinkNYC said via Twitter.

    Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, "Truly the end of an era but also, hopefully, the start of a new one with more equity in technology access!"

    Continue reading
  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    As shareholders sue the social network amid Elon Musk's takeover scramble

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022