IT manager Charles E. Taylor sentenced for hacking into and sabotaging his former employer’s computer network
(STL.News) – Charles E. Taylor has been sentenced to federal prison for hacking his former Atlanta-based employer and sabotaging their internal communications network, causing more than $800,000 in damage.
“Taylor deliberately sabotaged the computer network he had been entrusted to protect because he was upset with his former employer,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Corporate insiders like Taylor cause significant losses through hacking activity each year, and companies must remain vigilant against insider threats to their network security.”
“Taylor used sabotage to betray the trust placed in him by his employer, causing extreme hardship for the company and his fellow employees,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “No amount of subterfuge will protect cyber criminals from being unmasked, arrested and prosecuted by FBI investigators and federal prosecutors.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: In 2013, Taylor, a resident of Jacksonville, Arkansas, was hired as a systems administrator for a lumber and building materials wholesaler. In early 2018, a large Atlanta-based building products distributor acquired the company. Taylor kept his job as a senior systems engineer after the merger, but he was unhappy with the newly combined company and resigned in July 2018.
A month after his departure, Taylor conducted a multi-stage sabotage campaign targeting the company’s network. Using information he gained in his employment, Taylor logged into the network remotely without authorization and used encryption methods to hide his network connections. In mid-August 2018, Taylor changed passwords for network routers located at dozens of company warehouses. Company employees were unable to access the routers, and the company replaced them shortly thereafter at a cost of roughly $100,000.
Days later, Taylor issued a shutdown command for a central command server on the company’s network, crippling internal communications at the company. As the company worked to restore its network over a two-day period, employees at several of its branches were forced to take customer orders by hand and field incoming orders using their personal cell phones. In total, the server sabotage cost the company over $700,000 dollars in lost profits and remediation costs.
Charles E. Taylor, 60, of Jacksonville, Arkansas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee to one year and six months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release – one year of which will be served on home detention – and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $834,510. Taylor was convicted of computer fraud on February 19, 2020, after he pleaded guilty.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan P. Kitchens, Deputy Chief of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section, prosecuted the case.