[ISN] Wardriver pleads guilty in Lowes WiFi hacks

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Sun Jun 06 2004 - 23:38:18 PDT

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    By Kevin Poulsen
    June 4, 2004
    In a rare wireless hacking conviction, a Michigan man entered a guilty
    plea Friday in federal court in Charlotte, North Carolina for his role
    in a scheme to steal credit card numbers from the Lowe's chain of home
    improvement stores by taking advantage of an unsecured wi-fi network
    at a store in suburban Detroit.
    Brian Salcedo, 21, faces an a unusually harsh 12 to 15 year prison
    term under federal sentencing guidelines, based largely on a
    stipulation that the potential losses in the scheme exceeded $2.5
    million. But Salcedo has agreed to cooperate with the government in
    the prosecution of one or more other suspects, making him eligible for
    a sentence below the guideline range.
    One of Salcedo's two codefendants, 20-year-old Adam Botbyl, is
    scheduled to plead guilty Monday, assistant U.S. attorney Matthew
    Martins confirmed. Botbyl faces 41 to 51 months in prison, but also
    has a cooperation deal with the prosecutors, according to court
    filings. The remaining defendant, 23-year-old Paul Timmins, is
    scheduled for arraignment on June 28th.
    In 2000, as a juvenile, Salcedo was one of the first to be charged
    under Michigan's state computer crime law, for allegedly hacking a
    local ISP.
    According to statements provided by Timmins and Botbyl following their
    arrest, as recounted in an FBI affidavit filed in the case, the pair
    first stumbled across an unsecured wireless network at the Southfield,
    Michigan Lowe's last spring, while "driving around with laptop
    computers looking for wireless Internet connections," i.e.,
    wardriving. The two said they did nothing malicious with the network
    at that time.
    It was six months later that Botbyl and his friend Salcedo hatched a
    plan to use the network to steal credit card numbers from the hardware
    chain, according to the affidavit.
    FBI Stakeout
    The hackers used the wireless network to route through Lowe's
    corporate data center in North Carolina and connect to the local
    networks at stores in Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky, South Dakota,
    Florida, and two stores in California. At two of the stores -- in Long
    Beach, California and Gainseville, Florida -- they modified a
    proprietary piece of software called "tcpcredit" that Lowe's uses to
    process credit card transactions, building in a virtual wiretap that
    would store customer's credit card numbers where the hackers could
    retrieve them later.
    At some point, Lowe's network administrators and security personnel
    detected and began monitoring the intrusions, and called in the FBI.  
    In November, a Bureau surveillance team staked out the Southfield
    Lowe's parking lot, and spotted a white Grand Prix with suspicious
    antennas and two young men sitting inside, one of them typing on a
    laptop from the passenger seat, according to court documents. The car
    was registered to Botbyl.
    After 20 minutes, the pair quit for the night, and the FBI followed
    them to a Little Ceasar's pizza restaurant, then to a local multiplex.  
    While the hackers took in a film, Lowe's network security team poured
    over log files and found the bugged program, which had collected only
    six credit card numbers.
    FBI agents initially identified Timmins as Botbyl's as the passenger
    in the car, apparently mistakenly, and both men were arrested on
    November 10th. Under questioning, Botbyl and Timmins pointed the
    finger at Salcedo. Timmins had allegedly provided the two hackers with
    an 802.11b card, and had knowledge of what his associates were up to.
    Botbyl and Timmins, known online as "noweb4u" and "itszer0"  
    respectively, are part of the Michigan 2600 hacker scene -- an
    informal collection of technology aficionados.
    The Lowe's wi-fi system was installed to allow scanners and telephones
    to connect to the store's network without the burden of cables,
    according to the indictment.
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