A Texas man pled guilty this week to hacking into computer servers owned by SWReg Inc., a subsidiary of Digital River, which operates e-commerce sites primarily for software makers and other sellers of digital goods.
SWReg manages the royalty payments for independent software developers who write code. The company allows those developers to go online, view the royalty balances in their accounts, and cash them out. When an account is cashed out, SWReg electronically transfers money to the developer’s bank account, mails the developer a check, or credits the developer’s PayPal account.
Over the course of 10 months—from Dec. 23, 2008 to Oct. 15, 2009—Jeremey Parker hacked into the SWReg system, credited several SWReg accounts and then transferred those credits—a total of about $275,000—to his bank account, says the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In addition to his attack on SWReg, Parker also pled guilty to breaking into servers maintained by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The Goddard servers, which support access to data sent to the Earth from satellites gathering oceanographic data, do not have control over the satellites themselves. However, they do allow consumers to pay to access the stream of data. Parker’s damages to the computer system required NASA to spend $43,000 on repairs.
Parker faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud charge and 10 years on a separate computer hacking charge.
Parker’s exploits are examples of the growth in cybercrime. The FBI received 303,809 cybercrime complaints in 2010, the second-highest total ever.
Digital River could not be reached for comment.