ibusinesslines.com March 20, 2018

Former NSA Employee Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Information

02 December 2017, 03:20 | Jodi Jackson

Larry Downing Reuters

Former NSA worker pleads guilty to snatching classified docs

The information stored by Pho was is believed to have been stolen by Russian hackers who identified the Top Secret government documents after it was identified by the Kaspersky Lab antivirus software installed on his personal computer.

Pho reportedly faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

The sensitivity of the case was evident on Friday, when one courtroom official described the charges against Mr. Pho as "super-sealed" before the hearing.

According to his plea agreement, beginning in April 2006, Pho was employed as a Tailored Access Operations (TAO) developer for the National Security Agency (NSA).

In August 2016, Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, of Glen Burnie, Md., was arrested by the FBI after federal prosecutors said the former NSA contractor illegally removed highly classified information and stored the material in his home and auto.

In June another NSA contractor, Reality Winner, 25, was charged with leaking classified material about Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election to a news outlet.

An elite National Security Agency hacker has pleaded guilty to illegally taking his work home - and in the process, to have inadvertently provided the Russian government with highly sensitive USA hacking tools.

He kept the material at his Ellicott City, Maryland home.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Pho started removing government documents in 2010, and continued doing it through March 2015. It is further alleged by USA government sources that Russian spies were able to get their hands on the top-secret code via the antivirus package, although Kaspersky denies any direct involvement. Kaspersky claims it destroyed the NSA hacking tools when it realized what they were. After an internal investigation in November, Kaspersky admitted that its antivirus software could be compromised, but added that it had was not deliberate and denied it was involved with Russian intelligence.

The alleged hack had been previously reported by the Times, The Wall Street Journal and others, but the employee's identity had not previously been revealed.

A former employee of an elite government hacking group pleaded guilty to illegally taking classified documents.

Nghia Hoang Pho allegedly took home classified material from his job at the NSA.

Another person named Reality Winner had been a contract worker with the NSA in Georgia before she was arrested in June and charged with providing a single NSA document to The Intercept, according to court documents.

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