Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Nghia Hoang Pho, former NSA employee, pleads guilty to retaining top-secret intelligence

Nghia Hoang Pho, former NSA employee, pleads guilty to retaining top-secret intelligence

Government officials, who would speak of the classified details of the case only on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Pho took the classified documents home to help him rewrite his resume.

Previous reports also suggested that Russian hackers targeted the home computer of a former NSA staffer and stealing classified information after identifying the NSA files using the Kaspersky antivirus software.

On Friday, the 67-year-old Nghia Hoang Pho pleaded guilty to removing the top-secret data and storing it in his Maryland home.

An NSA staffer pleaded guilty to retaining national defense information on Friday.

An elite National Security Agency hacker has pleaded guilty to illegally taking his work home - and in the process, to have inadvertently provided the Russian government with highly sensitive USA hacking tools. "Pho worked in the Tailored Access Operations - the NSA's elite hacking unit - which has now reportedly been renamed the Computer Network Operations", the DoJ said in a statement.

News of the breach was first reported by The Wall Street Journal earlier this year, which said hackers working for Russian intelligence had obtained classified NSA data.

Mr. Pho is one of three N.S.A. workers to be charged in the past two years with mishandling classified information, a dismal record for an agency that is responsible for some of the government's most carefully guarded secrets.

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"Beginning in 2010 and continuing through March 2015, Pho removed and retained USA government documents and writings that contained national defense information, including information classified as Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information", the US Department of Justice said in disclosing Friday's guilty plea.

The NSA has not commented on the report, but the Department of Homeland Security subsequently issued a directive banning all US agencies from using Kaspersky products. He faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, along with a fine of $250,000.

However, from 2010 to March 2015, Pho had been removing classified United States data and bringing it home, knowing he had no authorization to do so.

No other charges were filed, and there is no mention of any efforts by Pho to sell or pass off any of the data.

Reality Leigh Winner, a Texas native who had been stationed in Maryland, was charged in June with sending a classified report to a news organization.

His sentencing will be held next April. Victor is a former NSA contractor and Air Force veteran. Most notably, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed a cache of classified material in 2013 exposing US government surveillance programs.

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