Three Seattle-area men have been indicted on multiple state and federal charges of burglary and identity theft, respectively. According to the grand jury indictment, the men ran a sophisticated scheme in which they would remotely hack into Seattle businesses' Wi-Fi networks and steal employee financial information. Once they had gained insight into a company, the men would then allegedly commit a physical burglary of the building in order to steal servers containing additional information.
Prosecutors allege that the men utilized several methods to hack into the businesses' networks. Most commonly, they used "wardriving," which entails mounting a powerful Wi-Fi receiver inside a car and driving through an area to locate networks that can be easily penetrated. Once the men had access to those networks, prosecutors claim, they were then able to remotely access company information.
The men allegedly used that access to learn employee names, birth dates and Social Security numbers, which they would then sell to other people who would open credit cards with the information. The men are also accused of stealing company financial data including payroll accounts and banking information.
After hacking into the businesses' digital systems, the men allegedly used their new knowledge of the company to break into the physical building. They are accused of stealing laptop computers, servers, and other devices containing company information.
Because of the nature of the two alleged crimes, the men have been charged with both felony and state offenses. They are facing nine federal felony charges for their hacking crimes, including aggravated identity theft, for allegedly stealing data from 13 Seattle companies. They are also facing state charges for burglarizing several area businesses.
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Feds: Wi-Fi hacking burglars targeted dozens of Seattle-area businesses," Levi Pulkkinen, Sept. 19, 2011