LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Romanian citizen has been indicted on federal charges of hacking into NASA computers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, causing more than $500,000 in damage.
The one-count indictment was returned by a federal grand jury Tuesday and accuses 25-year-old Robert Butyka with unauthorized impairment of a protected computer. Butyka, who uses the moniker “Iceman,” allegedly hacked into 25 NASA computers at JPL in December 2010.
The computers were part of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder Program, which is used to support climate research and improve weather forecasting.
The hacking impaired the computers for more than two months while NASA removed the malicious code, restored data and took steps to prevent further access by hackers. The $500,000 in damages includes the costs of completing the work on the computers and time lost to scientific researchers.
If Butyka is convicted, he faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in a federal prison.