Siemens Contractor Jailed for Planting Logic Bombs

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A Siemens contractor who sabotaged computer programs so that he would later be re-hired to fix them has been jailed.

David Tinley of Harrison City, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of intentional damage to a protected computer back in July 2019. 

Between 2014 and 2016, the 62-year-old computer programmer inserted malicious pieces of code known as logic bombs into software used at the Monroeville branch of Siemens in Pennsylvania. The logic bombs were designed to unleash code that would cause the software to malfunction after specific circumstances arose.

"The logic bombs ensured that the programs would malfunction after the expiration of a certain date. As a result, Siemens was unaware of the cause of the malfunction and required Tinley to fix these malfunctions," reads a statement released July 19, 2019, by the United States Attorney's Office of the western district of Pennsylvania.

Deceived by Tinley's despicable ruse, Siemens reputedly paid tens of thousands of dollars to the contractor to fix the masterfully orchestrated problems of his own sinister creation. According to a pre-sentence memorandum, Tinley paid Siemens $42,000 in restitution for that work.

For his criminal actions, Tinley faced a maximum prison term of 10 years and a maximum fine of $250,000. On Monday, December 16, United States District Judge William S. Stickman handed the corrupt contractor a six-month federal prison sentence and ordered him to pay a $7,500 fine.

Once his custodial sentence has been served, Tinley will spend a further two years under court-ordered supervision.

According to Law360 (registration required), the computer programs that prosecutors said Tinley had damaged were in fact spreadsheets that Siemens used to manage orders. 

Siemens rumbled Tinley's logic bomb–planting scheme in May 2016, when the contractor, who was out of town and unable to visit the office to carry out a fix in person, was able to provide a password that unlocked the spreadsheets to Siemens staff. 

Assistant United States Attorney Shardul S. Desai prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

United States Attorney Scott W. Brady lauded the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its investigation, which led to the successful prosecution of Tinley.

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