Who was the first juvenile incarcerated for cybercrime in the United States?
Jonathan Joseph James (December 12, 1983 – May 18, 2008) was an American hacker who was the first juvenile incarcerated for cybercrime in the United States. The South Florida native was 15 years old at the time of the first offense and 16 years old on the date of his sentencing. He died at his Pinecrest, Florida home on May 18, 2008, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Between August 23, 1999, and October 27, 1999, James committed a series of intrusions into various governmental systems. What brought him to the attention of federal authorities, however, was his intrusion into the computers of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a division of the United States Department of Defense, the primary function of which is to analyze potential threats to the United States of America, both at home and abroad.
James later admitted to authorities that he had installed an unauthorized backdoor in a computer server in Dulles, Virginia, which he used to install a sniffer that allowed him to intercept over three thousand messages passing to and from DTRA employees.
The precise software obtained was the International Space Station's source code controlling critical life-sustaining elements. This intrusion, when detected, caused NASA to shut down its computers for three weeks that July, costing $41,000 to check and fix its systems. Jonathan James did this using only a Pentium Computer.