After 5 Years Hacker Who Hacked Official Linux Kernel Website Arrested While Breaking Traffic Rules

Around five years after unknown hackers gained unauthorized access to multiple servers used to maintain and distribute the Linux operating system kernel, police have arrested police have arrested a South Florida computer programmer.

Donald Ryan Austin, a 27-year-old programmer from of El Portal, Florida, was charged Thursday with hacking servers belonging to the Linux Kernel Organization ( and the Linux Foundation in 2011, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday. 

Austin managed to steal login credentials of one of the Linux Kernel Organization system administrators in 2011 and used them to install a hard-to-detect malware backdoor, dubbed Phalanx, on servers belonging to the organization.

Using the Phalanx malware, Austin allegedly installed Ebury – a Trojan designed for Linux, FreeBSD or Solaris hacking – on a number of servers run by the Linux groups, which helped him gain access to the login credentials of people using the servers.

Austin allegedly infected Linux servers, including "Odin1," "Zeus1," and "Pub3," which were leased by the Linux Foundation for operating He also hacked the personal email server of Linux Kernel Organization’s founder Peter Anvin.

Austin is also accused of allegedly using his unauthorized admin privileges to insert messages into the system that would display when the servers restarted.

According to prosecutors, Austin's motive for the intrusion was to gain early access to Linux software builds distributed through the website.

This security breach forced the Linux Foundation to shut down completely while a malware infection was cleared up, and rebuild several of its servers. Miami Shores Police stopped Austin while breaking traffic rules on August 28 and then arrested after identified as a suspect in 2011 case.

Austin is charged with 4 counts of "intentional transmission causing damage to a protected computer." He was released from jail on a bond of $50,000 provided by the family of his girlfriend.

Judge has ordered Austin to stay away from the Internet, computers, and every type of social media or e-mail services, due to his "substance abuse history."

Austin is scheduled to appear in San Francisco federal court on September 21 before the Honorable Sallie Kim United States Magistrate Judge.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of ten years of imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5)(A).  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.


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About Jaime Lacson

A Freelance Computer Tech with knowledge about computer, router and mobile phones, especially in Upgrade and Downgrade OS, Software and Hardware troubleshooting. follow me at Google+
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