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Press Release

Former Public School Information Technology Manager Sentenced for Damaging School's Computer Network

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant deactivated school’s phone system and thousands of network user accounts

BOSTON – An Ayer man was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for committing a cyberattack against the computer network of his former employer, an Essex County public high school.

Conor LaHiff, 30, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to one month in prison and three years’ supervised release, the first 12 months to be served in home confinement.  He was also ordered to pay $34,110 in restitution. In December 2023, LaHiff pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized damage to protected computers. 

“Individuals who exploit their specialized knowledge to retaliate against a former employer through costly and dangerous cyberattacks will be held accountable,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement counterparts to protect the security of the computer network we rely upon every day.”

“Committing a cyber intrusion to settle a score with your former employer is a bad idea but that’s exactly what Conor LaHiff did, and in doing so, he deactivated a high school’s phone system along with thousands of network user accounts,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “This short-sighted scheme has brought serious consequences and should serve as a warning to others: the FBI will track down and bring to justice cyber criminals, regardless of what their motivation is for willfully breaking the law.” 

LaHiff was employed as a desktop and network manager at an Essex County public high school until he was terminated in June 2023. After he was fired, LaHiff used his administrative privileges to deactivate and delete thousands of Apple IDs from the school’s Apple School Manager account – software used to manage student, faculty and staff information technology resources. LaHiff also deactivated more than 1,400 other Apple accounts and other IT administrative accounts and disabled the school’s private branch phone system, which left the school’s phone service unavailable for approximately18 hours.

After his termination for the charged conduct, LaHiff had obtained a similar position at another public high school. 

Acting U.S. Attorney Levy and FBI SAC Cohen made the announcement today.  Valuable investigative assistance was provided by the Massachusetts State Police and the Haverhill Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Mackenzie A. Queenin of the Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit prosecuted the case.

Updated April 2, 2024