September 16, 2005
Beware the Disgruntled IT Employee
William Shea was a program manager for a debt collection company who was having some problems at work. Shortly after being placed on a "performance improvement plan" -- a sure sign of potential trouble -- Shea reacted by using his computer skills to wreak havoc on the company's financial records. Shea was convicted for violating the federal computer crime statute, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1030, as described in a press release (here) issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California:
Evidence presented at the six-day trial showed that Mr. Shea was hired around August 2001 as a programmer and manager of the company’s specialized financial software computer network. In this position, Mr. Shea had administrative level access to and familiarity with the company’s computer systems, including the database server. After Mr. Shea was advised of adverse employment issues near the end of 2002, he was placed on a performance improvement plan on January 6, 2003. The evidence showed that a “time bomb” was placed onto the company’s network around that time. When the defendant failed to show up at work without any prior notice on January 17, 2003, he was terminated. Company officials did not know at the time that he had placed malicious code on the computer network that was set to delete and modify data at the end of the month.
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