Feeds

Sysadmin admits trying to axe California power grid

Homer Simpson-style rage attack

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A sysadmin last week pleaded guilty to attempting to disrupt the power grid in California by shutting down a data center that managed the state's electricity supply.

Lonnie Charles Denison, 33, of South Natomas in California confessed to breaking a glass cover and pushing an emergency power off button at the Independent System Operator's (ISO) data center near Folsom on 15 April. The contract Unix sysadmin was upset with his employer and co-workers at the time. Denison reportedly snapped shortly after discovering his computer privileges had been revoked.

His actions prevented the ISO from communicating with the electricity market for about two hours, leaving California vulnerable to blackout conditions. In the event no blackout occurred because the incident happened late on a Sunday night, when demand was low, so California had no need to buy in excess generating capacity from other states.

Nonetheless, the incident cost the centre $14,000, UPI reports. It took 20 computer specialists about seven hours to restore the system.

Folsom data centre blues

Prosecutors allege Denision compounded his offences by sending a threatening email to an unnamed California ISO employee the next day implying he planted a bomb at the facility. The email said: "Hey, at one point I respected you... you have a new kid. So this is only because of him. Get out before the timer expires. Not long now. Take care."

ISO responded by evacuating 500 workers from the facility and transfered control of the grid to a second control centre.

Denison pleaded guilty to attempted damage of an energy facility, a felony offence punishable with up to five years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, at a hearing in Sacremento on Friday. The rogue employee faces a sentencing hearing scheduled for 29 February. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
BlackEnergy crimeware coursing through US control systems
US CERT says three flavours of control kit are under attack
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.