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Disgruntled TSA data analyst sentenced for sabotage attempt

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A former data analyst for the Transportation Security Administration was sentenced to two years in prison for planting code in a terrorist screening database server after he was told his position was going to be eliminated.

Douglas James Duchak, 46, received the sentence on Tuesday after admitting he planted the sabotage code in the terrorist screening database on October 23, 2009, eight days after supervisors told him his position would be terminated at the end of the month. The code was set to disable the TSA's system for vetting individuals given access to sensitive information and secure areas of airports on November 3 of that year by overwriting a crucial computer file.

The employee of government contractor InfoZen, who had 25 years of experience in information systems, tried to cover his tracks by logging on to the workstation of an employee who was assuming Duchak's responsibilities. Using the fellow employee's credentials, Duchak copied the code onto the employee's machine.

Video surveillance in the secure area of the TSA's Colorado Springs Operations Center captured Duchak planting the code after hours. A subsequent investigation caught the code before it could disrupt operations. The TSA spent $85,539 responding to the offense.

In October, Duchak pleaded guilty to one count of intentionally trying to damage a protected computer, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $60,587 for repairs to the TSA system. He will be required to undergo mental health treatment.

In going after the TSA, Duchak joins a long roster of IT workers accused of abusing their access to sensitive systems to exact revenge on employers. You can find similar tales in the related stories section that immediately follows. ®

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