NASA and Pentagon hacker TinKode receives two-year suspended jail sentence

Romanian court orders him to pay over US$120,000 to Oracle, NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense

Romanian national Manole Rzvan Cernianu, known online as TinKode, received a two-year suspended prison sentence for hacking into computer systems owned by Oracle, NASA, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Department of Defense and was ordered to pay damages totalling more than US$120,000.

According to Cernianu's case file summary on the Romanian Ministry of Justice Web portal, he was sentenced on Sept. 26 and received six prison sentences of one or two years for separate computer-related offenses.

The offenses included: gaining unauthorized access to a protected computer system; transferring data from a computer system without authorization; affecting the normal operation of a computer system by deleting, modifying or sending electronic data; creating, selling or distributing a devices or a computer program designed to be used in computer crimes; creating, selling or distributing a password or access code without authorization that could be used to access a computer system with the intention of committing a computer crime.

Because the offenses were committed concurrently, the court ruled that Cernianu should serve only the lengthiest prison sentence of two years. Furthermore, the three months spent in arrest between January and April 2012 were subtracted from the two-year prison sentence and its execution was suspended in favor of four years of probation.

In addition, Cernianu was ordered to pay $59,002 to Oracle, $52,575 to NASA, $5,025 to the U.S. Department of the Army and $7,348 to the U.S. Department of Defense. The court's decision can be appealed within 10 days of being issued.

Under the online alias TinKode, Cernianu took credit for hacking into many high-profile websites including some belonging to the U.S. Army, NASA, the U.K. Royal Navy, the European Space Agency, MySQL -- now owned by Oracle -- and Google.

In some cases the hacker made efforts to notify the affected parties before publishing information about the security vulnerabilities he found, which earned him a spot in Google's Security Hall of Fame. In other cases he engaged in full disclosure and even posted confidential information taken from the compromised servers on his blog.

TinKode said in the past that his intentions had never been malicious, but some of the companies and organizations whose computers he targeted claimed that his actions resulted in damage.

"To the relief of many, TinKode appeared to be inspired more by the desire to embarrass organisations into improving web security - rather than making money," Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at antivirus vendor Sophos said Friday in a blog post. "Nevertheless, his actions were illegal and led to his arrest by Romanian authorities."

"That's a lesson that others would be wise to learn from if engaged in similar activities," Cluley said.

Members of the Romanian Security Team (RST) forum -- the largest online hacker community in Romania, where TinKode was a high-ranking member before his arrest -- took notice of the court's decision on Thursday. Some of them expressed relief that he received a lenient sentence, some felt that the amount of money he has to pay is too large and questioned his prospects of finding work with a criminal record, while others felt that he did wrong by seeking publicity which eventually led to his arrest.

TinKode's story should make hackers ask themselves whether what he did was worth it, an RST forum moderator said.

"It's no excuse for TinKode's criminal hacks, but if the websites had been properly secured in the first place they would have never found themselves embarrassed by the Romanian hacker," Cluley said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?