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3 Pittsburgh residents charged with hacking law firm network

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office say that three Pittsburgh residents hacked into a law firm's computer network and stole "personal financial information" about firm employees in violation of federal law. Authorities also claim that one of the defendants, who were recently indicted by a federal grand jury and arrested, is a member of the hacking collective Anonymous. If convicted of these Internet charges, the three could face up to 26 years in prison.

The defendants include a married couple who live in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Pittsburgh and another man who lives in Esplen. According to FBI agents, the female defendant, 24, worked at a law firm identified only as "VG" until she was fired on Nov. 28, 2011. Later that same day, software was installed onto the law firm's computer server that was designed to capture passwords used by people on the firm's network.

Prosecutors claimed to the grand jury that the software was installed by the Esplen man, 20, with assistance from the woman and her husband, 28. Information collected by the software allegedly was transferred by the 20-year-old to the husband. The 20-year-old man is a member of Anonymous, a loose association of computer hackers whose online activities have allegedly included attacks on government and corporate websites, prosecutors said.

The defendants were arrested and released on $10,000 bond after appearing before a federal magistrate. The charges they face include maximum penalties of 26 years in prison and a $1.1 million fine, though sentencing guidelines instruct the court to consider the convicted person's criminal history and the seriousness of the conduct.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Three indicted for hacking into law firm's computer system," June 27, 2012

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