ATLANTA – Christian William Kight, a/k/a Drillo, has been sentenced for extortion, computer fraud, and wire fraud for hacking into an Atlanta-based computer analytics company and attempting to extort money from the company in exchange for the return of their intellectual property.
“This defendant hid behind his computer to extort companies in this district and elsewhere,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “As a result of the exemplary work of law enforcement and the cooperation of the victim, he is headed to federal prison. This case highlights the positive outcomes that are possible for businesses and the community when the private sector works with law enforcement to bring cyber criminals to justice.”
“Kight’s scheme against this company is unfortunately all too common and highlights the ever-growing need to remain vigilant in cybersecurity efforts”, said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Hopefully this sentence sends a message to the thieves hiding behind their computers, if you violate our laws, the FBI will make sure you pay the price.”
“Computer hacking is a serious crime, and the theft of intellectual property threatens the fabric of our economy. The partnership between the Georgia Attorney General’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is just one example of law enforcement working together to keep Georgia citizens, individual and corporate, safe,” said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: Kight gained unauthorized access to the computer networks and servers of multiple companies and organizations, including a computer analytics company in the Northern District of Georgia. Once on the victim’s network, Kight concealed his identity, exfiltrated data files, and deleted data and log files. He then sent a series of emails to the victim demanding money in exchange for the release of their data.
When the company announced their intention to contact law enforcement, Kight further threatened to send reputation-harming letters to the company’s clients and disseminate the data he had stolen. The victim nonetheless contacted the FBI and reported the hack and extortion demands. Once identified through the FBI investigation, a search of Kight’s computer equipment and encrypted email account revealed evidence of this crime as well as his scheme to extort multiple victims.
Christian William Kight, a/k/a Drillo, 29, of San Clemente, California, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr., to seven years, eight months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, a $900 fine, and $42,001.00, in restitution. Kight was convicted on these charges on December 3, 2019, after he pleaded guilty.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura D. Pfister prosecuted the case.