Fannie Mae worker found guilty of planting malware timebomb

Filed Under: Law & order, Malware

Fannie Mae
A computer programmer has been convicted after planting a malicious script, designed to destroy data from the servers of Fannie Mae, a US financial giant.

36-year-old Rajendrasinh Babubhai Makwana worked for three years as a software engineer contractor at Fannie Mae's offices in Urbana, Maryland, and had access to all of the company's almost 5000 servers.

Fannie Mae terminated Makwana's employment at their 247,000 square foot Urbana Technology Center on October 24th, 2008, and within days found malicious code had been embedded on their systems designed to wipe out all data on their network at 9:00am on January 31st, 2009.

According to prosecutors, anyone trying to log in to the network on January 31st would have received a message saying "Server Graveyard".

Computer logs and analysis of Makwana's laptop revealed that he was the instigator of the malware.

You can imagine just how damaging it could have been for the company if all of its data, including financial, securities and mortgage information, had been wiped. Even though it would be likely that the firm would have off-site backups that would not have been hit by the malware attack - it would still have been enormously disruptive for the company, at a time when confidence in the financial industry was quite rocky anyway. Indeed, the court heard evidence that it would take a week for the company to get its systems back up-and-running again.

More and more companies are being forced to make the difficult decision to make staff and contractors redundant in response to uncertain economic conditions. As I've described in the past, a disaffected employee could create havoc inside your organisation so make sure that appropriate security measures are in place.

Makwana is scheduled to be sentenced on December 8th, and could face a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.