Texas teen charged in Yale hacking probe



A teen accused of hacking into Yale University computers surrendered to the FBI Thursday in a New Haven court after evading authorities for nearly three years.

Jason Jarrell, 19, of Coppell, Texas, is charged with six counts of computer crime related to the unauthorized access of Yale computing systems that occurred during March 2000. The charges carry a maximum punishment of 95 years in prison as well as an order of restitution, according to officials at the Division of Criminal Justice.

He was arraigned Thursday in New Haven Superior Court, with bond set at $100,000, according to court personnel.

The arrest comes after reports last week that another hacker compromised Yale’s Pantheon computer system and had cracked Pantheon users’ passwords.

According to an arrest warrant filed in February 2003 in superior court, Jarrell broke into Yale computers from his home in Texas and installed hidden programs on the computers that monitored network traffic and also collected passwords to access Yale computer systems. He was 16 years old at the time of the alleged offenses.

Jarrell allegedly compro mised computers at the Bass Laboratory and the Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory that are used to conduct medical research and particle accelerator experiments. According to the DCJ, Jarrell caused over $150,000 in damage and affected “research to an immeasurable degree.”

Other systems affected by the alleged intrusions include computers at the Yale Child Study Center, the School of Management, Information Technology Services, and the Engineering Robotics Laboratory.

“One computer in the School of Management was compromised but because it was part of a closely-knit cluster of important systems the staff had to rebuild all of the systems in this cluster to ensure that the intruder had been fully eradicated,” the arrest warrant said. That intrusion allegedly resulted in $27,000 worth of damage.

The warrant states that FBI agents obtained records from Internet service providers used by Jarrell. They also obtained telephone subscriber records from GTE. Records traced the connection from which the hacker operated to Coppell, Texas.

FBI agents later executed a search-and-seizure warrant at Jarrell’s apartment, during which Jarrell and his mother were interviewed as part of the investigation, the warrant said. Agents also confiscated various computer printouts, disks, modems, instruction books, CD-ROMs, videotapes, computer parts, and other miscellaneous items regarding the investigation.

“An abundance of computer files and programming code, designed to gain unauthorized access to computer systems, cause interruption of [computer] services and surreptitiously intercept critical usernames and passwords of compromised computer systems, were located on said media,” the arrest warrant stated.

Furthermore, the computer Jarrell used contained information regarding the University of California at Davis and the University of Virginia.

“When an individual has decided to break into an organization’s computer systems, the first stage is to gather information about the target network,” the affidavit stated. “Computer intruders often use a port scanner to find computers on the target network with vulnerabilities that they can exploit to gain unauthorized access.”

Jarrell is scheduled to appear back in court on April 22.

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