Morristown man faces federal computer hacking charges

(WBIR) A Morristown man faces federal computer hacking charges after investigators say he planned to launch cyber attacks on two universities and three companies since last summer.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Timothy Justin French, 20, at his home in Morristown. Officials charged French, also known as "Orbit," with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse.

If convicted, French could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

French used the online alias "Orbit" while he was allegedly a member of NullCrew. That group is accused of hacking companies and universities to steal and release computer data and information, including thousands of usernames and passwords.

In Nov. 2012, NullCrew reportedly released more than 3,000 usernames, email addresses, and passwords that may have belonged to members of a foreign defense ministry.

The FBI worked with a witness who was invited to join online chats with NullCrew members. During these chats, NullCrew members talked about past, present and future computer hacks, according to court documents.

Authorities said they believe French was involved in five cyber attacks organized by NullCrew. In each of these attacks, investigators identified a computer user named "Orbit." This user was using an internet protocol addressed assigned to French's home in Morristown.

French waived a detention hearing in Knoxville's Federal Court on Monday. Officials will transfer the suspect to Chicago to face prosecution in the U.S. District Court; no court date has been set.


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