A California man will spend seven years and eight months in federal prison after he was sentenced last week for extortion, computer fraud, and wire fraud for hacking into an Atlanta-based computer analytics company and attempting to extort money from the company in exchange for the return of their intellectual property.
In addition to the prison time, Christian William Kight, a/k/a Drillo, 29, of San Clemente, California, also received from Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr., three years of supervised release after completing the sentence, a $900 fine, and to pay $42,001.00, in restitution. Kight pleaded guilty to the charges December 3.
Kight gained unauthorized access to the computer networks and servers of multiple companies and organizations, including a computer analytics company in the Northern District of Georgia, said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. Once on the victim’s network, Kight concealed his identity, exfiltrated data files, and deleted data and log files. He then sent a series of emails to the victim demanding money in exchange for the release of their data.
When the company announced their intention to contact law enforcement, Kight further threatened to send reputation-harming letters to the company’s clients and disseminate the data he had stolen, Pak said. The victim nonetheless contacted the FBI and reported the hack and extortion demands. Once identified through the FBI investigation, a search of Kight’s computer equipment and encrypted email account revealed evidence of this crime as well as his scheme to extort multiple victims.
“This defendant hid behind his computer to extort companies in this district and elsewhere,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “This case highlights the positive outcomes that are possible for businesses and the community when the private sector works with law enforcement to bring cyber criminals to justice.”
“Kight’s scheme against this company is unfortunately all too common and highlights the ever-growing need to remain vigilant in cybersecurity efforts”, said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta.