A series of leaks has rocked the National Security Agency over the past few years, resulting in digital spy tools strewn across the web that have caused real damage both inside and outside the agency. Many of the breaches have been relatively simple to carry out, often by contractors like the whistleblower Edward Snowden, who employed just a USB drive and some chutzpah. But the most recently revealed breach, which resulted in state secrets reportedly being stolen by Russian spies, was caused by an NSA employee who pleaded guilty Friday to bringing classified information to his home, exposing it in the process. And all, reportedly, to update his resume.
The Justice Department Friday announced that Nghia Hoang Pho, a 67-year-old from Ellicott City, Maryland, has admitted to willful retention of national defense information. He'll face up to 10 years in prison, but is free until his sentencing in early April. Pho is a naturalized United States citizen originally from Vietnam. Pho illegally mishandled classified information in spite of being an agent in the NSA's elite Tailored Access Operations foreign hacking group (now called Computer Network Operations) from 2006 to 2016. Though it's somewhat astonishing that someone with his position and training would cause such a basic breach, Pho brought classified data and paper documents to his home between 2010 and 2015. The New York Times, which originally reported on Pho's case before his identity was known, notes that he seems to have been charged in March 2015.