Ex-IT staffer unleashes chaos on Shionogi network

File this under the unintended consequences of layoffs. A disgruntled former employee at Shionogi Pharma, angered by job cuts that affected his former supervisor, sneaked into the company's computer system and wreaked havoc. The hacker, Jason Cornish, now faces up to 10 years in prison for the $300,000 worth of damage he allegedly caused.

The story begins when Cornish, an IT administrator, resigned from the company in July 2010. Soon after, the company announced layoffs. Among those hit was Cornish's "close friend and former supervisor," a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office says. When the employees were dismissed, the company didn't adequately revoke their network passwords, leaving a loophole for Cornish to use, IT World reports.

Then, in February, Cornish allegedly went to a McDonald's in his hometown of Smyrna, GA, and used the fast-food restaurant's network to access Shionogi's systems. He then used a software program he'd previously installed to delete virtual machines on the IT network, including those that hosted the company's email server, its order tracking systems and its finance application, Information Age reports.

Cornish's moves disrupted company operations for days, the Justice Department says. He's charged with knowingly transmitting computer code with the intent to damage computers in interstate commerce. As IT World points out, the episode highlights the dangers of leaving some T's uncrossed when employees are laid off.

- get the Justice Department statement
- see the IT World story
- get more from Information Age

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