Unidentified officials from the U.S. government, who could only speak about the classified details on the condition they remain anonymous, said that Pho took the classified documents home with him to help him rewrite his resume, the Times reported. Authorities found classified documents throughout his home, according to court documents, which Pho took from work between 2010 and 2015.
The information stored by Pho was is believed to have been stolen by Russian hackers who identified the Top Secret government documents after it was identified by the Kaspersky Lab antivirus software installed on his personal computer.
Nghia Hoang Pho, 67, of Ellicott City, Maryland, pleaded guilty to willful retention of national defense information, according to federal law enforcement officials.
Pho is the latest NSA employee to be charged in the last two years for taking classified information, according to Reuters.
Although Pho's offense carries a possible 10-year sentence, prosecutors in the case agreed not to seek more than eight years.
The NSA has not commented on the report, but the Department of Homeland Security subsequently issued a directive banning all US agencies from using Kaspersky products.
Pho, who was born in Vietnam and is a naturalized USA citizen, is free pending his sentencing, which is set for April 6, Bonsib said. The chief executive of Russia's Kaspersky Lab, Eugene Kaspersky, says he's ready to have his company's source code examined by US government officials to help dispel long-lingering suspicions about his company's ties to the Kremlin.
The court documents do not appear to make mention of Russian intelligence agencies or Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky has acknowledged that its software lifted hacking tools from a home computer in 2014, but said it was not part of an intentional effort to steal information from the NSA.
Pho's attorney, Robert C. Bonsib, will also be free to inquire about a more lenient sentence for his client, the New York Times reported.
NSA has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years. Harold Martin, an NSA contractor, was indicted in February for stealing up to 50 terabytes of data during a 20 year period, The Times said. Most notably, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed a cache of classified material in 2013 exposing USA government surveillance programs.
A former employee of an elite government hacking group pleaded guilty to illegally taking classified documents.
Reality Winner, 25, a former Air Force linguist who worked as an NSA contractor at a facility in Augusta, Georgia, was charged in June with copying a classified US report and mailing it to a news organization.