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Database Admin Gets 12 Months For Hacking Employer

Terminated for inappropriate conduct, a database administrator from Houston struck back at his former employer.

A former database administrator for Houston's GEXA Energy was sentenced to 12 months in prison and fined $100,000 on Tuesday for hacking into his former employer's network in 2008.

Steven Jinwoo Kim, 40, of Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty last November to a single count of reckless damage to a protected computer.

The indictment filed against Kim in October, 2009, lists two charges, one of which was dropped as a result of a plea deal.

The plea agreement states that Kim was suspended from GEXA Energy, an energy utility company, on January 17, 2008, for sending and receiving inappropriate electronic communication in violation of company policy. Kim's network access was suspended at this time.

On February, 5, 2008, Kim was fired from the company and his network access was revoked.

On February 17, 2008, Kim remotely accessed the GEXA Energy network without authorization via a VPN connection from his home.

Through an account used by the company's database administrators, he accessed the company's General Energy Management System (GEMS) database, which holds customer and billing information, and is used to manage customer service for residential and business customers in Texas and elsewhere.

On April 30, 2008, through May 1 of that year, Kim damaged the company's Oracle database. "Specifically, the defendant created a new data table in the GEMS production database, which, when copied over the GEMS staging database, caused the automatic script to fail, thus impairing the availability of data," the plea agreement states.

Kim also copied a database file containing personal information on 150,000 customers to his home computer. The data included names, dates of birth, addresses, driver's license numbers, and social security numbers.

GEXA Energy estimates that Kim's actions resulted in a loss of at least $100,000.

A 2008 Insider Threat Study conducted by the U.S. Secret Service, Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute, and CERT found that revenge was the main motive in just over half of the insider incidents studied.

It also found that most insiders held technical positions in the targeted organization.

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