Green Bay resident Chad Davis, 19, was charged Monday in a federal complaint alleging he hacked into a protected U.S. Army network at the Pentagon and maliciously interfered with the communications system.
The complaint adds that Davis allegedly gained illegal access to an Army Web page and modified its contents. Davis also is alleged to have gained access to an unclassified Army network, removing and modifying its computer files to prevent detection.
As reported earlier, the U.S. Army said in June that it launched a criminal investigation into an electronic break-in of its main Web site but stressed that hackers did not breach military security or operations.
The break-in was the latest in a series of electronic break-ins of major U.S. government Web sites. A hacker group also broke into four U.S. Agriculture Department Web sites just days before, the USDA said.
The charges facing Davis did not include any other attacks on government computers outside of the U.S. Army incident.
"Even though the intrusion involved an unclassified Army computer network, the intruder prevented use of the system by Army personnel. Interference with government computer systems are not just electronic vandalism, they run the risk of compromising critical information infrastructure systems," U.S. Attorney Thomas P. Schneider said in a statement.
The charge of malicious interference with a government communication sytem is a felony punishable by a term of ten years in prison, while the unlawful access to a protected computer is a misdemeanor punishable by a term of imprisonment not to exceed one year.
Davis is also known as "Mindphasr," according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Green Bay, which also stated Davis was a founder of the hacking group called "GH," or "Global Hell."
During the June attack, the Army said hackers replaced its main Web page, used to provide basic information on the service to the general public, and put up a message saying that "Global Hell will not die."
Military and other government officials have voiced major concern over repeated break-ins in the past year by electronic wizards anxious to simply show their hacking ability or to actually steal secrets.
In March, a Pentagon-sponsored study ordered by Congress in 1995 concluded that military computer and communications systems were increasingly vulnerable to attack by hackers and high-tech enemies.
Schneider noted that, as alleged in the complaint, Davis was the subject of an FBI-executed search warrant earlier this year. In spite of that, it is alleged that he continued to gain unlawful access to computer networks.
The investigation that led to the charges against Davis was conducted jointly by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and the FBI.