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Romanian man charged with hacking NASA computers

A Romanian man was charged with breaking into 150 US government computers, including those at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the US Naval Observatory, and causing $1.47 million in damage.

Victor Faur, 26, of Arad, Romania, is charged with conspiracy and computer intrusion, the US attorney's office in Los Angeles said today in a statement. He faces as much as 54 years in prison if convicted. Faur leads a hacking group called the WhiteHat Team. The group targets US government computers because they are regarded as the most secure computers in the world, prosecutors said. The compromised computers displayed screens saying they had been hacked and were used as chat rooms by the WhiteHat group. Damage to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration computers alone was $1.37 million. The computers collect and process data from spacecraft orbiting the earth and in deep space. Scientists couldn't rely on the integrity of the data after the computers were hacked and had to manually communicate with the spacecraft while they rebuilt the computer systems, prosecutors said. Faur was arrested by Romanian police and is free on bail, Assistant US Attorney Brian Hoffstadt said in a telephone interview today. The US has an extradition treaty with Romania and is exploring an extradition request, he said. Faur couldn't be reached immediately for comment. A telephone number listed under his name in Arad had been disconnected. (Bloomberg)