Disgruntled IT worker receives two-year prison sentence for deleting company’s Microsoft user accounts
In a nutshell: A former IT worker who took revenge on a company by deleting 80 percent of its Microsoft Office 365 accounts has been handed a two-year prison sentence for his crime.
According to the US Department of Justice, Deepanshu Kher was employed by an IT consulting firm from 2017 through to May 2018. His employer was hired by the California-based Carlsbad Company in 2017 to assist with its migration to a Microsoft Office 365 environment, so the firm sent Kher to help with the project.
Carlsbad, it seems, was less than impressed by Kher’s work, complaining about his performance to the consultancy firm soon after his arrival. He was eventually fired on May 4, 2018, returning to India a month later.
Blaming Carlsbad for his firing, Kher hacked into the company’s server on August 8, 2018, deleting 1,200 of its 1,500 Microsoft Office 365 employee accounts. Not only were workers unable to access their email, contacts lists, meeting calendars, documents, corporate directories, and video and audio conferences, they were also locked out of the Virtual Teams environment required to do their jobs.
The attack also meant customers, vendors and consumers were unable to contact company representatives and vice versa, meaning buyers could not be informed of the situation or when it might be resolved.
Carlsbad’s operations came to a standstill for two days, though the IT problems persisted for three months. The company’s Vice President of IT said that throughout his 30-plus years in the profession, he has “never been a part of a more difficult and trying work situation.”
Kher was arrested after flying from India to the United States on January 11, 2021, unaware of the outstanding warrant for his arrest.
US District Court Judge Marilyn Huff charged the Indian national with intentional damage to a protected computer, which carries a maximum ten-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine. Kher faces two years behind bars followed by three years supervised release. He must also pay Carlsbad $567,084—the amount it paid to fix the problems that Kher caused.
Before he was arrested, the FBI used travel technology company Sabre for real-time updates on Kher’s travel activities, including “any travel orders, transactions or reservations.”
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