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MSU student helps FBI identify medical clinic threat

A Mississippi State University computer science major’s cooperation with the FBI is leading to the arrest of a Texan accused of planning a major computer “hack” of a Dallas medical facility.

Wesley McGrew of Collinsville, a computer science doctoral student at the university, turned over his research about a potential hack to an FBI agent in Jackson.  The agent passed the information to the Dallas bureau to investigate for possible federal crimes.

McGrew, a research assistant at MSU’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Center, said he communicates often with perceived hackers, but researches only a small percentage of those he interacts with online.  This time, however, one showed evidence of threatening public health and safety.

McGrew said the suspect used multiple aliases, including “GhostExodus” and “PhantomExodizzmo” when allegedly posting about breaking into the Carrel Clinic.

According to McGrew, online bragging by the suspect “mentioned control and escape computer systems responsible for critical infrastructure that could jeopardize lives, if compromised.”  The suspect also discussed breaking into a facility’s heating, ventilation and air condition computer system, with plans for a serious attack that could harm patients and affect medications kept at specific temperatures, he added.

FBI special agents have identified the suspect as Jesse William McGraw of Arlington, who allegedly posted plans for a “Devil’s Day” attack and referred to an organized “distributed denial of service,” a type of computer attack in which an unauthorized person takes control of secured computers and uses them for potentially malicious attacks.

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