Syrian Electronic Army hacker pleads guilty in Virginia

Syrian Electronic Army hacker pleads guilty in Virginia

A 37-year-old Syrian national once affiliated with the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) hacker group pleaded guilty in Virginia federal court Wednesday to conspiring to receive extortion proceeds and conspiring to unlawfully access computers. 

Beginning in 2011, Peter Romar defaced media and government websites belonging to those the SEA felt were overly critical of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. By 2013, the SEA’s methods had evolved into extorting money from hacking victims under threat of the group destroying or leaking information from compromised systems. 

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Romar, who was living in Germany, acted as a go-between for extortion payments when victims could not transfer money directly to Syria. 

His partner in the schemes is still at large. 

“Today’s guilty plea is by the latest international offender who believed that he could operate from abroad, behind the perceived veil of anonymity offered by the Internet, and use computers to threaten the security of our citizens and their property,” said Assistant Attorney General John Carlin.

“It shows that the Department of Justice and the FBI stand behind their pledge to hold accountable foreign actors who assist in the hacking of U.S. victims.”

Carlin is presently a top figure in cyber terrorism and national security issues, but announced Tuesday he was resigning from the Justice Department.