Feeds

Employee fired for probing bad guys awarded $4.7m

Termination was 'malicious, willful, reckless, wanton'

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

A jury has awarded a former security analyst for Sandia National Laboratories $4.7m after he was fired for conducting his own investigation into computer attacks and taking his findings to authorities of a separate agency.

The judgment was more than twice the amount sought by Shawn Carpenter, who was dismissed by Sandia in January, 2005, according to FCW.com and other news outlets. The jury said the termination was "malicious, willful, reckless, wanton, fraudulent or in bad faith."

Carpenter initiated his investigation after detecting attacks on Sandia's network that originated from China, Romania, Italy and other countries and have come to be known as Titan Rain. After learning that similar attacks had been unleashed on Army bases and US contractors, Carpenter asked his superiors for permission to reverse-engineer the hacks so he could track down the perpetrators. His request was denied.

But Carpenter investigated them anyway, partly at the request of the FBI. When Sandia officials caught wind of the unsanctioned probe, Carpenter was fired.

A spokesman told us Sandia officials are disappointed and are considering whether to appeal. But he declined our request to discuss, even in the most general terms, their policies relating to the investigation of attacks that target their networks.

The episode underscores the morass confronting those trying to secure some of the world's most sensitive networks. Limited resources and bureaucratic rivalries have long been a challenge in reining in organized crime and espionage, and the growing wave of ever more sophisticated computer-generated rackets is making matters worse.

Notwithstanding some high-profile convictions against botnet ringleaders and other cybercrooks, much of the enforcement these days comes from self-appointed take-down groups such as PIRT (Phishing Incident Reporting and Termination), manned by individuals who donate their time and resources to help eliminate online menaces.

Philip Davis, an attorney who represented Carpenter, told PCWorld the verdict was a "vindication of his decision to do the right thing and turn over the information he obtained to the proper federal authorities in the interests of national security". ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.