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IT worker let spammers into ex-employer's servers

By Robert McMillan
November 4, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - An IT manager who five months after being fired logged onto to his former employer's computer network and opened the e-mail server up to spammers has been sentenced to one year in prison.

Steven Barnes had earlier pleaded guilty to computer-intrusion charges, saying in a plea agreement that he had accessed servers at San Mateo, Calif.-based Akimbo Systems Inc. and turned the Internet media company's mail system into an open mail server that spammers could use to send out messages. He also deleted the company's Microsoft Exchange e-mail database and files that the computer needed in order to boot up.

In a letter to the presiding judge, Barnes said that he had battled drug and alcohol addictions at the time and was upset after Akimbo representatives showed up at his door in April 2003 -- one carrying a baseball bat -- and taken both his work and personal computers.

He logged onto company servers on Sept. 30 after trying an old password that had been valid before he was fired. "To my complete disbelief, I soon realized ... they had no firewall, and the passwords were not even changed," he said.

Employees at Akimbo, which operated under the name "Blue Falcon Networks Inc." at the time, were unable to send or receive e-mail or look up old messages for days, and the company was blacklisted by an antispam organization, federal prosecutors said in court filings.

On Thursday, a federal judge in California ordered Barnes to serve a year and a day in prison and pay $54,000 in restitution to Akimbo Systems. After his release, Barnes will serve three years probation.

He is scheduled to report to prison on Jan. 8.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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