Guilty! Network manager destroyed his own network

It was a stunning case - a network manager was accused of ruining a network he himself took years to build. Tuesday, after 10 and a half hours of deliberation, the jury spoke.

The network administrator was accused of setting a software time bomb that crippled his former employer's manufacturing capabilities and cost them more than $12 million in damages, in what is the first federal criminal prosecution of computer sabotage.

Tim Lloyd, 37, of Wilmington, Delaware, was found guilty of the sabotage charge, but not guilty of a second charge of interstate transportation of stolen goods. The charges were in connection with a 1996 crime that cost Omega Engineering, high-tech measurement and instrumentation manufacturer, more than $10 million, derailed its corporate growth strategy and eventually led to the layoff of 80 workers. Lloyd faces five years in federal prison for each count. Sentencing is set for July 31, precisely four years after the incident occurred.

Assistant US Attorney V. Grady O'Malley argued for nine days in Newark District Court that this is the case of a trusted, long-term employee who built the company's network and then began plotting to destroy it when he started losing his standing and respect at Omega. The system crashed and eradicated all of the programs that ran the company's manufacturing machines three weeks after Lloyd was fired.

A manufacturing company, in the time it takes to boot up a server, was no longer able to manufacture.

"I have never seen this massive of a deletion in my 10 years of experience," said Greg A. Olson, expert witness for the prosecution and director of Minnesota OnTrack's World Wide Data Recovery Services. "This was intentional."

Executives from Omega, testifying during the trial, said the company spent $2 million on reprogramming alone. They also calculated that the company lost about $10 million in other expenses and missed sales.

"We will never recover," said Jim Ferguson, plant manager of Omega South, the company's Bridgeport facility, during his testimony in the trial.

Lloyd's attorney, Edward Crisonino, of Westmont, New Jersey, maintains that Lloyd is the victim of a large-scale plot to use him as a scape goat for a company that left its network, and the programs that fueled its manufacturing, unsupervised, unprotected and unmaintained.

"This case is not built on solid proof," Crisonino said in his 45-minute closing last week. "The government has a time bomb theory, an idea... You need solid proof of what happened. This is not evidence."

Crisonino told the jury he doesn't know what happened to the file server but that it could have been a myriad of problems from a simple accidental crash to a hacker planting a virus.

Lloyd, who was with Omega for 11 years until he was fired on July 10, 1996, was the computer system manager in Omega's Bridgeport, New Jersey, manufacturing plant, which was responsible for building the company's products, along with handling product customisation work. Omega, at the time, built 25,000 products, with that number jumping to 500,000 including customisations. The programs on the centralised file server housed the programs and code generators for all of them.

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