Hungarian sentenced for hacking, blackmailing Marriot

Attila Nemeth, a 26-year-old Hungarian national who tried to blackmail Marriot International into giving him a job by stealing the company’s internal documents and threatening to publish them has been sentenced to 30 months in prison by a District of Maryland judge.

After serving the aforementioned sentence, he will also be under supervised release for three years.

Nemeth was arrested in Washington on January 17, when he landed and proceeded to incriminate himself by sharing the details of how he was able to get his hands to the aforementioned documents during what he though was a job interview with a Marriot employee. Unfortunately for him, the “employee” was actually an undercover FBI agent.

The FBI got involved when Marriot notified them of the blackmail request, and together they executed the switcheroo.

Nemeth was lured into sending a photocopy of his passport and into coming to America after having asked for – and thinking he will be granted – a job based in Europe, a $150,000 (annual) pay, free stay at any of the Marriot hotels, free flights to various destinations, and the right to work whenever he felt like it as an outside contractor.

In exchange, he had promised to destroy, in two years’ time, the proprietary documents he had stolen after tricking Marriot employees to install backdoors in the hotel chain’s systems.

After having been caught, he pleaded guilty – and has ultimately been found guilty – of charges of transmitting malicious code and attempted extortion.

“As a result of the compromise of its computer network, Marriott was compelled to engage more than 100 of its employees in a thorough search of its network to determine the scope of the compromise and to identify the data that may have been compromised,” concluded the US Department of Justice in a press statement. “The loss to Marriott as a result of the intentional damage caused by Nemeth was approximately $1 million in salaries, consultant expenses and other costs associated with Nemeth’s intrusion.”

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