17 Aug 2011

Man pleads guilty in Shionogi hack case

Jason Cornish, a 37-year-old Georgia man, recently pleaded guilty to charges he hacked and disabled the computer system of his former employer, the U.S. subsidiary of Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi, maker of cholesterol medication Crestor.

Cornish was laid off from the company in September 2010, and the following February, he accessed the company's computer network from a public wireless connection at a Smyrna, New Jersey, McDonald's. Drawing on his insider knowledge of the Shionogi system, he deleted 15 VMWare hosts to disable 88 servers running most of the company's operations, including product shipping and payroll.

The criminal complaint said the computer security breach cost Shionogi about $800,000.

Cornish was apprehended after the FBI's Cyber Crimes Task Force identified the McDonald's wireless network where the attack originated, and discovered Cornish made a credit card purchase there just before the hack occurred, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

U.S. District Judge Stanley Chestler will sentence Cornish on November 10. He faces up to 10 years in prison and could be fined as much as $250,000.

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer's Facebook page was hacked in July. A group called Script Kiddies claimed responsibility and said the attack was part of the AntiSec campaign launched by notorious hacker groups Anonymous and LulzSec.