A 26-year-old Hungarian citizen is being detained in the US for infecting the computers of hotel giant Marriott and attempting gain a job by blackmail.
Over a three-month period beginning late 2010, an undercover US Secret Service officer convinced Atilla Nemeth that his threat to release stolen financial and proprietary information about the company had worked.
Nemeth flew to Washington Dulles airport this January at Marriott's expense under the belief he had landed an "employment interview".
Instead, he would be revealing his exploits in detail to a Secret Service agent who had assumed the role as Nemeth's Marriott contact since mid-November 2010, about a week after the Hungarian job hunter sent his first employment proposal.
To prove his threats weren't empty, two days after the initial threat, Nemeth sent a second email with eight attachments, seven of which were confirmed to contain Marriott's internal data.
He has admitted to gaining access to its network by creating a backdoor that was created after sending an email containing an infected attachment to a Marriott employee.
The Marriott claims Nemeth's actions compelled it to engage more than 100 staff to determine the scope of the breach and identify what data had been compromised. It claims the intrusion cost it between US$400,000 and $1 million.
During what he thought was the job interview, Nemeth, to prove it really was his handy work, demonstrated to the agent exactly how he accessed the Marriott network and the location of the stolen data on a server in Hungary.
Nemeth faces a potential 10 years prison for sending malware and a further five for attempted extortion, according to the Justice Department.