Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Willful Retention of National Defense Information

Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed

Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed

The information is believed to have later been stolen from Pho's personal computer by Russian government hackers, according to the New York Times.

Nghia Hoang Pho, 67, of Ellicott City, Maryland, had been charged with willful retention of national defense information. He faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, along with a fine of $250,000. Pho's case is particularly egregious, as the employee was lifting sensitive documents from the agency for half a decade.

Pho himself worked at the NSA from 2006 to 2016, and was employed in Tailored Access Operations unit, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

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In connection with his employment, Pho held various security clearances and had access to national defense and classified information.

A member of the US National Security Agency's elite hacking team has been charged with illegally removing top secret materials, in an embarrassing breach for the crucial electronic espionage body.

According to a court document, from 2010 to March 2015, Pho removed classified material in hard copy and digital form. Kaspersky Lab, a Russia-based cybersecurity firm, has denied any role in working with the Russian government or other entities to identify or steal documents.

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U.S District Judge George L. Russell has scheduled sentencing for April 6, 2018 at 10 a.m. Kaspersky has said it believes the NSA tools ended up with hackers when its client turned off his anti-virus software because it was preventing him from generating an encryption key.

In a remarkable spy-vs. -spy twist, Israeli government hackers who had compromised Kaspersky's network detected hacking-tool signatures that they recognized as the NSA's. Further, Kaspersky Lab has maintained that it does not work in any way with Russian intelligence.

Some of the tools in that breach have allegedly been used for "ransomware" attacks that shut down or disrupt businesses, hospitals, railways and other enterprises around the world in 2017, the Times reported.

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And Harold T. Martin III was arrested in 2016 after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents discovered some 50 terabytes of data and documents that Martin had taken from the NSA and other agencies over a period of 20 years. Victor is a former NSA contractor and Air Force veteran. He was later indicted in February 2017 for violating the Espionage Act by carrying out what United States government officials have called the largest theft of classified information in U.S. history. Now he's pleading guilty to a federal crime.

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