According to Romania's Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), the man, Robert Butyka, hacked into several NASA servers on Dec. 12, 2010, modified and damage data on the servers and restricted access to them.
The authorities are detaining Butyka, a resident of Cluj-Napoca, Romania's fourth-largest city, on charges of circumvention of computer security measures and unauthorized disruption of the functioning of a computer, damage to computer data, and restriction of access to computer systems. Several computers were seized as evidence during a local police raid of Butyka's home.
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The Facebook page of Butyka, who reportedly goes by the online handle Iceman, is littered with notifications from Facebook apps, and links to a no longer working Website affiliated with his nom de guerre. A number of other websites associate the domain with malware.
Romania has been the source of a number of attacks, including a major international cybercrime ring that the Department of Justice helped bust up in 2008. In another major case, a Romanian hacker was convicted and imprisoned after repeatedly hacking into eBay in a series of actions that the auction website said resulted in millions of dollars of losses.
NASA has also been subject to Romanian hackers before. Victor Faur was charged in 2006 with 10 criminal counts for hacking into more than 150 government computers, including computers used for deep space research, and causing them to display messages indicating that they'd been hacked. He's now appealing the verdict against him. Earlier this year, a hacker with the online pseudonym TinKode exposed a security flaw in NASA Goddard Space Center's FTP site.
NASA did not respond to a request for comment in time for this article.