Teenager charged with hacking into AOL databases

A teenager broke into AOL networks and databases containing customer information and infected the servers with a malicious program to transfer confidential data to his computer, AOL and law enforcement officials have alleged.

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A teenager broke into AOL networks and databases containing customer information and infected the servers with a malicious program to transfer confidential data to his computer, AOL and law enforcement officials have alleged.

In a complaint filed in the US courts, the Manhattan district attorney's office alleges that 17 year old Mike Nieves committed offences including computer tampering, computer trespass and criminal possession of computer material between 24 December 2006 and 7 April 2007.

He is accused of:

  • accessing systems containing customer billing records, addresses and credit card information

  • infecting machines at an AOL customer support call centre in India, with a program to funnel information back to his PC

  • logging in without permission into 49 AIM instant message accounts of AOL customer support employees

  • attempting to break into an AOL customer support system containing sensitive customer information

  • engaging in a phishing attack against AOL staff, through which he gained access to over 60 accounts from AOL employees and subcontractors

Nieves faces four criminal charges and one misdemeanour charge. He appeared in court earlier this week and has been remanded in custody, a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney's office said.

The complaint filed against Nieves claims that he admitted to investigators that he had committed the alleged acts, because AOL took away his accounts. "I accessed their internal accounts and their network and used it to try to get my accounts back," the defendant is quoted as saying in the complaint. The court papers also claim Nieves admitted to posting photos of his exploits in a photo web site.

Nieves was arrested after AOL provided law enforcement authorities with information from an internal investigation into the alleged acts. AIM subscriber information and IP address data led AOL to Nieves, whose address and phone number AOL had on file, the court papers say.

The alleged acts cost AOL more than $500,000 (£250,000). It is not clear whether customer data was stolen. AOL declined to comment.

Nieves' lawyer was not available for comment.

The New York Post quoted Nieves’ mother as saying he was a student with special educational needs and behavioural problems.

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