Ex-employee Guilty of Damaging Systems

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 @ 04:02 PM gHale

An inside attack remains a scary proposition after learning a Mableton, GA, man admitted crashing his former employer’s computer systems after learning the company was going to fire him.

After learning that Charleston, WV-based EnerVest Operating was going to let him go, Ricky Joe Mitchell, 34, remotely gained access to the company’s systems and reset servers to factory settings in June 2012.

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Mitchell pleaded guilty to one count of fraudulent activity connected with computers on Tuesday and he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison when U.S. District Court Judge John Copenhaver sentences him April 24.

Due to his actions, the organization couldn’t operate normally for around one month. Furthermore, the firm was unable to retrieve data from backups.

“In 2014, it goes without saying that any business’s electronic communication capabilities and data storage are nearly as important to its success as the product or service it provides,” said United States Attorney Booth Goodwin.

“The prosecution of Mr. Mitchell for his reckless conduct underscores my commitment to help protect small businesses from any threat – both inside and out.”

Mitchell faces a maximum of 10 years and 3 years of supervised release. He may also have to pay restitution.

According to the indictment:
“From August 1, 2009 to June 26, 2012, defendant Ricky Joe Mitchell was employed with the Company as a network engineer.

“On or about June 26, 2012 … defendant Ricky Joe Mitchell did knowingly cause the transmission of a program, information, code, and command, and as a result of such conduct, cause damage without authorization to a protected computer. That is, on June 26, 2012, defendant Ricky Joe Mitchell accessed without authorization the protected computer and deleted backup information, transmitted a command to disable the data replication process designed to transmit backup data… deleted all of the Company’s phone system accounts and extensions, deleted all accounting data, and deleted all information validation… among other acts. The foregoing acts resulted in the inability of the Company’s employees to fully communicate and conduct business on behalf of the Company from approximately June 26, 2012 through July 27, 2012. The acts of the defendant Ricky Joe Mitchell caused damage to the protected computer in that such actions impaired the integrity and availability of data, a program, a system, and information, which damage resulted in loss to the Company substantially in excess of $1,000,000.”

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