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Sysadmin accused of Paine Webber computer sabotage

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A former sysadmin with UBS PaineWebber was indicted yesterday on federal charges of trying to manipulate the stock price of the brokerage's parent company by crippling its computer network.

Roger Duronio, 60, allegedly sent a logic bomb to over 1,000 PCs used by Painewebber brokers in hopes of disrupting operations to such an extent that the stock price of parent company UBS fell.
He invested more than $21,000 in put options and stood to make a fortune if UBS share price fell dramatically, prosecutors allege.

In the event, the effects of the logic bombs were severe (Painewebber claims it cost $3 million to clean up the damage) but didn't materially affect the broker's business, and certainly not UBS' stock price.

Suspicion for the attacks quickly fell on Duronio, a computer systems administrator, who resigned from PaineWebber on February 22 this year - just days before the March 4 - complaining about his wages and bonuses.

Duronio was charged and yesterday indicted for securities fraud and computer related fraud offences by a New Jersey court. He denies the charges.

If convicted of the offences he faces up to 20 years in prison and fines in excess of $1.25 million, Reuters reports.

Jack Clark, of Network Associates, said that whatever the outcome of the case it highlights how the threat firms face from the "enemy within". Reports suggest UBS PaineWebber network was infected by a Trojan horse program, Clark told us, adding that it is very rare for someone to try to make money from a computer virus. ®

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