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IT boss gets 30 months of porridge for trashing ex-employer's servers

Google warrant fingers culprit

A rogue IT manager has been sentenced to 30 months in prison after he changed jobs and decided to take revenge on his former employer.

From 2007 to March 2012, Nikhil Nilesh Shah, 33, worked at mobile apps developer Smart Online in North Carolina, US. After moving on to another job, Shah accessed his old company's servers three months later and deleted large amounts of information, including some of the firm's intellectual property.

The FBI began investigating the case and soon fingered Shah as a prime suspect. After they got a warrant to search his Gmail inbox, the team found incriminating evidence – specifically that Shah had emailed to himself details of the company's servers, plus its Cisco ASA VPN and PIX firewall configurations.

In addition, the FBI subpoenaed Facebook and AT&T for their records on Shah. The Facebook warrant yielded nothing useful, but the AT&T data allowed the Feds to triangulate and pinpoint his location at the time Smart Online was hacked.

Even more damning were chat logs from his Google account, which revealed Shah talking about how he could infiltrate Smart Online's servers and boasting that he had hacked his old employer. He was arrested in New Jersey on January 8, 2014.

Shah immediately asked for his lawyer and eventually worked out a plea deal with the FBI. He pled guilty to causing the transmission of computer code, damaging computers, and causing loss of at least $5,000 in value. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Tuesday this week, and must pay the firm $324,462 in compensation. ®

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