A 24-year-old Cambridge man has been charged with hacking into a Massachusetts Institute of Technology network and stole millions of documents from the university, according to a federal indictment that was unsealed today.
Aaron Swartz could face up to 35 years in prison and a fine of $1 million if convicted of the wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information and recklessly damaging a protected computer charges against him.
Prosecutors alleged in their indictment that Swartz broke into a restricted computer wiring closet in a basement at MIT to access the school’s network sometime between September 2010 and this January.
It is alleged that he did that in order to download a major portion of archived digitized academic journals on to his computer.
The journals were a part of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization that provides an online system for archiving and accessing more than 1,000 academic journals.
Prosecutors said that Swartz distributed a significant portion of JSTOR’s archive through other filing-sharing sites.
Authorities said Swartz is not affiliated with MIT, but was a fellow at a Boston-area university and in that standing could have accessed the archive for legitimate research.
Authorities also said they are unaware of any personal identifying information being stolen as a result of the alleged hack.
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