Quick Hits

Online Dating Relationship Led to NASA User Breach

Email from online dating acquaintance contained spyware

It started with a seemingly innocent relationship via an online dating service, and it led to a NASA employee’s computer getting infected with spyware that stole the victim’s personal information, including bank account numbers, social security number, address, and passwords to other computer accounts.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced late last month that a Nigerian man was sentenced to 18 months in prison by the Lagos State High Court in Nigeria for defrauding the NASA employee, whose name was not made public.

The perpetrator, Akeem Abejumo, who was arrested last week, allegedly sent an email attachment to the victim that contained malware that captured and stole the victim’s personal information from the NASA computer. Once the victim opened the attachment, which was sent from someone the employee had been communicating with via an online dating service, the NASA machine became infected. The spyware also intercepted other communications by the victim.

“Cyber-criminals know no boundaries and, despite their technical prowess, are nonetheless common criminals preying on innocent victims,” said NASA Inspector General Robert W. Cobb.

“The partnership between law enforcement agencies in the United States and Nigeria in the successful prosecution of this case demonstrates that cooperation between countries is vital to combat pernicious cyber-crime predators,” said U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor. “The Nigerian Judge’s sentence in this case -- 18 months in prison -- sends a strong message to cyber-criminals everywhere that this conduct will not be tolerated,” he said.

No word so far on whether the NASA employee was disciplined in any way for the breach.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading