Guilty plea in attempted cyber-attack on NRC computers

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A former Nuclear Regulatory Commission scientist accused of attempting to launch a cyber-attack on federal government computers has pleaded guilty to a computer crime.

Charles Harvey Eccleston pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington on Tuesday. Eccleston was detained last year in the Philippines and then deported.

Prosecutors say Eccleston attempted "spear-phishing" emails to dozens of Energy Department email accounts. That's a technique in which hackers send targeted, legitimate-looking emails that when opened can launch malicious software onto a recipient's computer network.

Prosecutors say the goal was to extract sensitive information related to nuclear weapons that could then be collected by a foreign country.

Court papers say Eccleston came to the FBI's attention after he entered a foreign embassy and offered government email addresses in exchange for money.

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