Former Systems Administrator Convicted of Hacking into Industrial Facility Computer System
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Walt Green announced the conviction of a former systems administrator who hacked into the computer system of an industrial facility to disrupt and damage its operations.
On February 4, 2016, BRIAN A. JOHNSON, age 44, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pled guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson to intentionally damaging a protected computer. JOHNSON faces possible imprisonment, fines, restitution orders, and a term of supervised release following imprisonment. Sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on May 19, 2016, before Chief Judge Jackson.
JOHNSON worked as an information technology specialist and systems administrator for a large manufacturing facility in Port Hudson, Louisiana. During the guilty plea hearing, JOHNSON admitted that, on February 27, 2014, several days after his employment was terminated, JOHNSON remotely accessed the plant’s computer system and intentionally transmitted code and commands which resulted in significant damage to the plant’s operations.
The crime for which JOHNSON has been convicted only requires that the value of the damage exceed $5,000. Oftentimes, however, the actual value of such activity far exceeds this minimum amount. In determining the appropriate sentence and amount of restitution, the Court will determine the actual value of the damage caused by JOHHSON during the sentencing hearing.
U.S. Attorney Green stated: “Cybercrime poses a very real threat and danger to businesses and individuals alike. External threats loom large, but insiders and former insiders can also be the source of such criminal activity. We commend the victim on its quick response and cooperation with our office and the FBI. The harsh reality is that no business or individual is immune from such an attack. We must therefore unite as a community to confront these threats.”
FBI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Jeff Sallet stated: “The FBI New Orleans Division’s Cyber Squad should be commended for their outstanding efforts throughout this investigation. Cyber cases are extremely challenging cases to investigate, mainly due to the complex nature of the internet and logistics in identifying the location of the person attempting to sabotage corporate networks.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office leads the Middle District of Louisiana Cyber Initiative which includes the U.S. Department of Justice’s Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Department of Education, the Louisiana State Police, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cybercrimes Squad. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Patricia Jones, who serves as the office’s Appellate Chief, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Crosswell.