Shoppers aren't the only ones who have to worry about cybercriminals stealing their stuff. In fact, the government is currently prosecuting four young hackers who broke into systems used by the U.S. Army, Microsoft and video game makers and carried away a ton of loot. The Department of Justice claims they stole over $100 million worth of data in the thefts.
The authorities became aware of the hacks back in 2011 and have since caught the hackers - and they're all fairly young. The oldest in the group is 28, but the youngest is only 18. Two of them have already pleaded guilty and could face up to five years in prison.
The four charged in the US were named as Nathan Leroux, 20, of Bowie, Maryland; Sanadodeh Nesheiwat, 28, of Washington, New Jersey; David Pokora, 22, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; and Austin Alcala, 18, of McCordsville, Indiana. The DOJ also said a man faces charges in Australia in connection with the same allegations. It did not name him in the announcement, but he was identified by Australian media earlier this year as Dylan Wheeler, 19, from Perth.
But, don't be fooled by their ages. Authorities have said that the young men are experienced and talented hackers. They'd have to be to come away with the bundle of super-secret information they stole from secure sources like Microsoft and the Army.
They're accused of hacking into a company called Zombie Studios and illegally accessing a training simulator for the Apache attack helicopter that was developed for the U.S. Army. But, that's not all. The hackers also stole proprietary information about the then-unreleased Xbox One from Microsoft and games from companies like Valve and Epic Games.
The four, aged between 18 and 28, are alleged to have stolen Xbox technology, Apache helicopter training software and pre-release copies of games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, according to an indictment dating from April that was unsealed on Tuesday.
So far, the Department of Justice has confiscated $620,000 related to the hacks.
The four hackers were initially being charged with a ton of illegal activity, including conspiracy to commit computer fraud, copyright infringement, wire fraud, mail fraud, identity theft and theft of trade secrets. They were also individually charged with individual counts of aggravated identity theft, unauthorized computer access, copyright infringement and wire fraud. Pokora and Nesheiwat are the only two who have already plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and copyright infringement. Wheeler is being charged for his role in the crimes in Australia.