James O’Brien, fired by a travel agency, hacked into his former employer’s computer system and canceled 60 customers’ airline tickets, federal prosecutors in Boston charge. The move cost the agency $96,000 and left dozens of would-be holiday vacationers stranded at airports.
The Boston Globe says that O’Brien’s alleged crime is the new face of hacking: Irate workers who in low-tech days might have simmered or spread slander about their ex-bosses now are wreaking havoc on their former workplaces by infiltrating their computer systems.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston is working on 10 other cases involving fired employees who allegedly struck back at their former bosses by hacking company computers. The phenomenon poses a costly threat to corporations, which can lose millions of dollars to hacker attacks by former insiders who know their systems’ vulnerabilities.
Robert Boule, a 29-year-old Framingham man, pleaded guilty in February to breaking into his former company’s computer system to monitor its product lines so he could undercut its bids.
Four full-time prosecutors work in the so-called CHIPs unit. The Boston FBI office has 13 agents assigned to high-tech crime — one of the bureau’s only growth areas other than terrorism.