Indian-American in Georgia sentenced for compromising U.S. Army computer program

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A former Indian-American defense contractor convicted last year for sabotaging an Army Reserve computer in 2014, was sentenced Sept. 11, to two years in prison.

Mittesh Das, 49, of Atlanta, Georgia, was convicted by Senior United States District Judge Malcom J. Howard, to 24 months of imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution.

On September 20, 2017, a federal jury found Das guilty of knowingly transmitting malicious code with the intent to cause damage to a U.S. Army computer used for strengthening national security, the crime being committed by Das in 2014.

A Grand Jury in the Eastern District of North Carolina indicted Das on April 5, 2016.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, in November of 2014, a national level computer program responsible for handling pay and personnel actions for nearly 200,000 U.S. Army reservists began experiencing unusual issues.

Five of the servers associated with the program are located at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

Standard internal troubleshooting uncovered suspicious code that led to an investigation by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID).  The investigation revealed that in 2012, due to Das’s vast experience with the system, the contracted company responsible for oversight of the computer system had subcontracted with Das to assume lead responsibility for the system.

However, the contract was subsequently re-bid and awarded to a different company with a hand-over date of November 24, 2014.  The investigation revealed that Das inserted malicious code – commonly referred to as a “logic bomb” – in the days leading up to the contract changeover and that the progressively destructive nature of this code began taking effect the day after the changeover.

The malicious code had to be removed to restore all information and features, and a thorough review of the entire system was carried out to locate any further malicious code, amounting to a total labor cost to the U.S. Army of approximately $2.6 million.

‎The case was investigated by U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, with help from the Department of Homeland Security and the Johns Creek, Georgia, Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Jason Kellhofer represented the government in this case.

“Mr. Das exploited his position as a cleared defense contractor to sabotage the U.S. Army Reserve’s personnel system and disrupt pay to our nation’s Soldiers,” Director Daniel Andrews of the Computer Crime Investigative Unit, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, is quoted saying in the press release.  “Cybercrime and insider threats present significant challenges to national security and military operations, and today’s sentencing serves as a stark reminder that we will continue to preserve strategic readiness by bringing violators to justice,” Andrews added.

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