Law Enforcement

Federal court sentences original Guccifer

Shutterstock image (by Sergey Nivens): Security concept, lock on a digital screen.

The Romanian hacker who claimed he had accessed Hillary Clinton's private email, along with other U.S. federal officials' personal information, will spend over four years in federal prison for breaching private data accounts of over 100 people.

Marcel Lehel Lazar, better known as "Guccifer," was sentenced by a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., on Sept. 1 to a 52-month prison term based on confessions made under a plea agreement with U.S. officials.

Between October 2012 and January 2014, according to a Sept. 1 Justice Department statement, Lazar broke into email and social media accounts of about 100 U.S. citizens. 

The hacks by the 44-year-old Romanian were aimed at stealing personal information and correspondence of the victims. The victim list included high-profile targets such as the sister of former President George W. Bush, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Clinton White House aide Sidney Blumenthal.

Lazar, who was extradited from Romania in 2014, pleaded guilty last May to charges of unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft.

According to the Justice Department, he admitted to federal authorities last spring that he publically released his victims' private email correspondence, medical and financial information and personal photographs.

Although Lazar told federal authorities that he had breached Clinton's private email server in Chappaqua, N.Y., FBI Director James Comey  told the House Oversight Committee in a July hearing that Lazar had lied about that particular hack. However, his theft of Blumenthal's information led to a posting of Clinton's private email domain name, which in turn led to a firestorm of criticism and an FBI investigation of the presidential candidate's email practices.

A person or group appropriating the handle "Guccifer 2.0," has claimed responsibility for more recent hacks of Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee records.

The two Guccifers are apparently unrelated, with some cybersecurity experts saying "Guccifer 2.0" is a stalking horse for Russian intelligence services.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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