Most people seeking employment dust off their resumes, respond to listings on Indeed, and wait to be called in for interviews. But, the subject of this week’s Tech Time warp, the Hungarian hacker Attila Nemeth, took a more colorful approach.
On Nov. 11, 2010, Nemeth emailed Marriott staff, informing the hotel giant he had been accessing its IT systems for months and would reveal its proprietary information if he wasn’t given a European-based job managing Marriott technology. He also demanded a $150,000 salary and free hotel nights.
After receiving no initial response, Nemeth emailed again two days later, this time attaching eight documents as proof of his hack. The documents were legit. Marriott took notice and enlisted the help of the U.S. Secret Service. An agent posing as Marriott employee “Phillip Bender” contacted Nemeth and invited him to the United States for a “job interview.”
Nemeth emailed the agent a copy of his Hungarian passport and then traveled to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 17, 2011. During the course of his “interview,” Nemeth explained how he had used Trojan malware emailed to Marriott employees to gain access to the hotelier’s servers. The hacker also revealed the location of a server in Hungary where he stored ill-gotten data.
Instead of a job with a six-figure salary, Nemeth got 30 months in prison, along with three years of supervised release. He was sentenced Feb. 3, 2012, after pleading guilty to hacking and extortion charges. The incident cost Marriott up to an estimated $1 million to resolve.
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