Former TSA Contractor Gets Two Years for Damaging Data

A former U.S. Transportation Security Administration contractor will serve two years in prison for messing with sensitive government databases used to identify terrorists as they try to enter the U.S.

James Duchak, 47, pleaded guilty in October to charges that he messed with code at the TSA's Colorado Springs Operations Center in October 2009. Prosecutors say he tried to damage the TSA's vetting database, just a week after learning that he was to be let go from his job.

Duchak deleted important code, used to properly format the birth dates of people entered into the system.

Duchak had been working as a data analyst at the TSA for about five years at the time of the incident. His job was to update TSA servers with data scraped from the government's terrorist screening database and the United States Marshals Service Warrant Information Network.

The former contractor's replacement -- who Duchak was training at the time of the incindent -- noticed the code changes, and the TSA shut down the database immediately.

Duchak had faced a maximum of 10 years in prison on the charges. In addition to the two-year federal sentence, he must pay $60,000 in restitution to the TSA and serve three years of supervised release following his prison term.

He was sentenced Tuesday by Judge David Ebel in the District of Colorado.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

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