A U.S. government consultant used software programs found on the Internet to break into the FBI's computer system, where he gained access to the passwords of 38,000 employees, including that of FBI Director Robert Mueller, the Washington Post reports.
The newspaper said Joseph Thomas Colon broke into the computer system four times in 2004 in hacks that gave him access to files on the Witness Protection Program and counterintelligence.
As a result, the bureau was forced to temporarily shut down the system and conduct a lengthy investigation to determine whether any of the compromised information had been misused.
The government does not believe Colon's "curiosity hacks" were intended to damage national security. Nevertheless, Colon pleaded guilty in March to four counts of exceeding his authorized access to obtain information from the FBI system. He faces up to 18 months in jail. The Post obtained the story from court documents filed at the U.S. District Court in Washington.
Colon was hired to work on the FBI's "Trilogy" computer system. He claimed that bureaucratic barriers hampered him from performing even routine work on the system, and that he only used the purloined user names and passwords to speed his work, the newspaper said.