Romanian police arrest alleged hacker in Pentagon, NASA breaches

A 20-year-old hacker who goes by the Internet name TinKode was arrested recently by Romanian police after he bragged about hacking into Pentagon and NASA computer systems.

Razvan Manole Cernaianu is accused of revealing security holes and publishing information about SQL injection vulnerabilities in those agencies.

The Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism said Cernaianu also offered a computer program on his blog that could be used to hack into websites and published a video showing Internet attacks he had made against the U.S. government.

The FBI and NASA assisted in the investigation. The U.S. Embassy in Bucharest said Cernaianu used, "advanced hacking tools to gain unauthorized access to government and commercial systems."

Cernaianu allegedly hacked into a computer server at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center last April, and posted a screen grab that showed files connected to confidential satellite data.

Anthony M. Freed, managing editor of Infosec Island, says that TinKode is known to have taken advantage of several well-known vulnerabilities that many of his targets should have resolved before he exploited them through SQL injections -- a technique many security experts now derisively call "Hacking 101."

"His targets tend to be large entities that undoubtedly have complex network deployments and multiple interfaces for third parties like contractors or client bases," says Freed, "which provide a higher product probability of his finding unprotected points of entry."

Freed says penetration by a determined hacker is almost guaranteed in networks of this size.

"They should focus on detection and data protection within the networks," he says, "while working under the assumption that they will not be able to prevent all breach attempts.

"Advanced monitoring systems, appropriate data classification, and secondary authentication protocols for access to the most sensitive information is critical both for detecting an intrusion and slowing hackers progress. This can buy the needed time to lock down the compromised system and prevent data theft."

Gary McGraw, CTO of Cigital, says if TinKode didn't want to get caught, he should not have been bragging so publicly. "If you go looking for attention, you're probably going to get it," he says.

McGraw says the damage caused was probably minor. "But, to get past all of these silly problems, agencies like these should build systems with security in mind in the first place. Right now they are trying to fix broken systems."

Read more about malware/cybercrime in CSOonline's Malware/Cybercrime section.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

More about ASAetworkFBIIslandKodeNASA

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Taylor Armerding

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place