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4/15/2011
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Federal Reserve Bank Hacker Pleads Guilty

Malysian citizen Lin Mun Poo admits to installing malware on a Federal Reserve Bank server.

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Malaysian citizen and resident Lin Mun Poo, 32, has pleaded guilty to possessing stolen credit and debit card numbers, federal authorities announced Wednesday. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment.

"Sophisticated cyber criminals exploit systemic vulnerabilities to steal money and information and to destroy, disrupt, or threaten critical services to companies and individuals," said agent Brian G. Parr, the head of the Secret Secret's New York field office. "We continue to adapt to these evolving trends and will remain proactive in pursuing cyber criminals."

Court filings made by the government allege that Poo was a serial hacker who had already compromised servers "belonging to financial institutions, defense contractors, and major corporations, among others, and selling or trading the information contained therein for exploitation by others." According to a statement released by the Department of Justice, "the defendant also admitted that he compromised a computer server belonging to the Federal Reserve Bank, and that he installed a malicious code onto that server."

A federal grand jury had returned an indictment in November 2010 charging Poo with device fraud, identity theft, and hacking, in part based on his possession of 400,000 credit card and bank account details.

Poo was arrested after arriving to the United States on a working vacation. According to court documents, "within hours of his arrival at JFK on October 21, 2010, U.S. Secret Service agents observed the defendant selling stolen credit card numbers for $1,000 at a diner in Brooklyn and arrested him shortly thereafter."

At that point, Secret Service agents seized his "heavily encrypted laptop" and evidently managed to crack it, since the charges against Poo allege that his laptop "contained massive quantity of stolen financial account data and personal identifying information, including more than 400,000 credit card, debit card, and bank account numbers."

After his arrest, said authorities, Poo admitted to visiting the country to procure stolen card numbers and PINs, which he planned to convert into cash via ATM withdrawals. Authorities also said that he admitted to compromising servers at numerous organizations, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, via an unspecified vulnerability in its servers. Bank officials said that their network had been hacked around June 2010, resulting in "thousands of dollars" of damage and affecting "10 or more" of their systems. But bank officials said that the attack had only compromised a test environment that didn't contain any sensitive information.

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