FBI investigates Swedish hacker

A 19-year-old man from Uppsala was found guilty on Monday of having gained unauthorized access to the computer networks of several Swedish universities and colleges. The teenager is now being investigated by the FBI, who suspect him of hacking American network giant Cisco.

The man was just 16 when he hacked his way in to what police described as “pretty much every college in Sweden”. Svea Court of Appeal gave him a suspended sentence and ordered him to pay total damages of 181,467 kronor ($28,100) to several of the colleges and universities.

The 19-year-old’s lawyer, Thomas Olsson, said he was surprised by the decision and would be consulting with his client about a possible appeal.

“I find it absolutely incredible that a guilty verdict was reached. There was no link at all established between my client’s computer and the computers that were attacked,” he told TT.

The convicted hacker was a pupil at a high school with an IT profile at the time the crimes were committed.

“He is a very skilled lad,” said Bosse Norgren, head of the police IT crimes unit. “I’m impressed by his technological know-how but unfortunately he’s less gifted when it comes to ethics and morals. It’s just a shame he doesn’t channel his knowledge into something more sensible.”

According to Norgren, police received reports from colleges all over the country that their systems had been hacked.

“He tried to take over the computer systems in order to harness their inherent computer power. This included the fastest computer in Sweden, the supercomputer at Linköping University.”

Bosse Norgren does not believe that the culprit was motivated by money.

“It seems to have been more like the traditional image of a hacker: a boy sitting in his room, accumulating more and more knowledge and doing it because it’s fun and a challenge.”

The 19-year-old is also suspected by US investigators of hacking networking giant Cisco. Swedish police have agreed to cooperate with the FBI and have already questioned the suspect about the alleged attack.

Prosecutor Chatrine Rudström said she would decide whether to investigate the matter further when she had finished reading Monday’s verdict.