WASHINGTON, Nov 23 (Reuters) - A Hungarian man pleaded guilty in U.S. court on Wednesday to hacking into Marriott International Inc MAR.N computers and threatening to reveal confidential information if the hotel operator did not offer him a job, the Justice Department said.
It said Attila Nemeth, 26, pleaded guilty in federal court in Baltimore, Maryland, under a deal with prosecutors. He was caught as a result of an undercover sting operation by U.S. law enforcement authorities.
Nemeth faces up to ten years in prison for transmission of malicious computer code and up to five years in prison for threatening to expose confidential company information. The judge set sentencing on Feb. 3.
According to the plea agreement, Nemeth sent on Nov. 11, 2010, an initial email to Marriott employees advising that he had been accessing company computers for months and had obtained proprietary information.
He threatened to reveal the information if Marriott did not give him a job maintaining the company’s computers, according to the documents. He admitted he installed malicious software that gave him a backdoor into the computer system.
Marriott in November last year created the identity of a fictitious employee for use by the U.S. Secret Service in an undercover operation to communicate with Nemeth.
Nemeth, believing he was communicating with Marriott human resources personnel, continued to call and email.
In January, he arrived at Washington Dulles Airport on a ticket purchased by Marriott for what he thought was an employment interview.
During the interview conducted by an undercover Secret Service agent, Nemeth admitted he accessed Marriott’s computer system and demonstrated how he did it.
U.S. officials said the loss to Marriott caused by Nemeth ranged between $400,000 and $1 million in salaries, consultant expenses, and other costs associated with the intrusion. (Reporting by James Vicini)