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An IT boss, dismissed from a firm years earlier, faces hacking charges after he allegedly snooped on email traffic at the company before passing on messages to workers whose jobs were in jeopardy.

Stevan Hoffacker, 53, was arrested in New York on Wednesday and charged with a computer-hacking offence against Source Media, a publisher of finance magazines, where he worked as director of IT and later VP of technology until his dismissal three years ago. If convicted, he faces up to five years imprisonment, AP reports.

Prosecutors say Hoffacker used his knowledge of the email account user names and passwords of senior execs (which hadn't changed in the three years since he left Source Media) to spy on their email conversations. When he came across correspondence discussing the possible termination of two workers he allegedly forwarded this information from a Yahoo! account in August and September.

This alerted Source Media to the fact it had a serious security breach on its hands, which cost is an estimated $100,000 in legal and IT security costs, and spurred the police investigation that led to Hoffacker's arrest. ®

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