Hacker Plants Keylogger Devices on Company Systems Faces 12yr in Jail

Hacker Plants Keylogger Devices on Company Systems Faces 12yr in Jail

A hacker admitted to planting hardware keyloggers on computers belonging to two companies to get unauthorized to their networks and steal proprietary data. He now faces 12 years of prison time.

It appears that the individual was after data relating to an “emerging technology” that both targeted companies were developing.

Access to network engineers’ systems

In February 2017, 45-year old Ankur Agarwal of Montville, New Jersey, trespassed the premises of one of the two tech companies and installed keylogging devices on its computers to capture employee usernames and passwords. He also added his laptop and a hard drive to the company’s computer network.

With the login details collected, Agarwal was able to access the company network remotely and target employees working on the emerging technology. He used his unauthorized access until April 2018.

In March 2017, the hacker wrote an exfiltration script and deployed it on the computers of multiple members of the team involved in the development of the emerging technology.

The next year, between January and February, he “targeted and obtained unauthorized access to the computers used by additional Company One employees, including its Chief Network Engineer Officer (“CNEO”) and a network engineer,” informs a court document.

Agarwal’s activity stayed under the radar until April 2018 when the security team at the company discovered the digital intrusion and initiated an inquiry. It appears that this did not stop the hacker as he used his access to monitor the progress of the internal investigation.

Getting an official badge

According to court documents, Agarawal had used the same method with another company headquartered in Texas, with offices in New Jersey. In June 2016, he physically trespassed the premises and installed a hardware keylogger to collect employee credentials.

He also obtained an access badge that gave him physical access to the offices, allowing easier recovery of the unauthorized electronic devices he had planted on company systems.

Among the information stolen from this second company was data related to the emerging technology.

Facing the music

Credentials and thousands of personal documents belonging to 10 employees from the two companies were accessed without authorization during the intrusions. At one of the two victim companies, the hacker also accessed a human resource file with details on more than 50 senior management employees.

On Tuesday, Agarwal admitted to this illegal activity. He now faces three charges, two for getting information from protected systems and one for aggravated identity theft.

The first two counts carry a maximum penalty of five years in jail while the third one has a mandatory term of two years. All of them are punishable by a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain/loss from the offense.

Agarwal is currently awaiting sentence, scheduled for January 28, 2019.

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