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Gamers targeting Apache helicopter simulators belonging to the US Army hacked into an Army network.
Federal officials have indicted “Xbox Underground”, a group of twenty-something-year-old players, of accessing an Army computer system for two months in late 2012. The gamers allegedly entered the army simulator via a hack at Zombie Studios, a game developer that was working with the military service on flight simulation software to train Apache helicopter pilots.
As soon as the Army was notified, military officials “addressed the particular manner in which they were breached,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed McAndrew, when asked about the military’s response to the hacking.
FBI officials were alerted to the hacking operation by a confidential informant. The group also hacked into commercial companies.
So far, four men in the group have been charged with infiltrating the computer networks of Microsoft Corporation, Epic Games Inc., Valve Corporation and Zombie Studios – in addition to hacking the US Army.
They cracked the corporate systems by stealing computer passwords from employees and software development partners. Once inside, the intruders grabbed unreleased software, software source code, trade secrets, copyrighted and prerelease works, and other information.
The hackers also gained access sometimes by piggybacking off of software coding errors to execute a “SQL injection” and carry out unauthorized commands.
“The members of this international hacking ring stole trade secret data used in high-tech American products, ranging from software that trains U.S. soldiers to fly Apache helicopters to Xbox games that entertain millions around the world,” Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in a statement.