A Hungarian national who thought that he could blackmail Marriott International into giving him a job by stealing the company’s internal documents and threatening to publish them has pleaded guilty to the charges laid against him in a District of Maryland court.
The 26-year-old Attila Nemeth has admitted to having sent emails containing a backdoor Trojan to Marriot employees which, once installed, gave him remote access to the company’s system. He misused that access to download various sensitive files.
He then proceeded to email the Marriot staff, claimed he had the aforementioned documents in his possession and demanded the job of maintaining the company’s computers and systems.
This first request – sent on November 11 – went unanswered, so two days later he sent again the same email, but this time he attached to it eight stolen documents containing financial and proprietary information as evidence of the truthfulness of his claims.
At this point, the company contacted the U.S. Secret Service, and an agent posing as a Marriot employee continued the negotiations. He managed to convince Nemeth to send a copy of his Hungarian passport and to come to the U.S. for a job interview.
Nemeth landed in Washington on January 17, and he went to meet the agent for a mock employment interview. Once he showed the undercover agent how the managed to penetrate the company systems and where he stashed the stolen documentation, he was arrested.
According to CIO, his charges – transmission of the malicious code and threatening to expose confidential and proprietary information – carry maximum penalties of 10 and 5 years in prison, respectively, and he is scheduled to receive his sentence in February next year.