Georgia man set off ‘logic bomb’ in Army computer, costing taxpayers millions

Special to the Ledger-Enquirer

An Atlanta man was found guilty Wednesday of planting a destructive piece of code in a U.S. Army computer program, the damage from which cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars.

Mittesh Das, 48, was convicted of the crime, which occurred nearly three years ago, said John Stuart Bruce, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina in a release.

In November of 2014, Army personnel began noticing unusual issues with a national computer program that handles pay and other data for nearly 200,000 reservists. After troubleshooting servers in Fort Bragg, N.C., investigators uncovered suspicious code and referred the case to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command.

The Army had contracted with an outside company to manage the system, which had in turn subcontracted Das to give him lead responsibility for the system. But when the Army decided to switch companies, Das planted a “logic bomb” in the software that would begin destroying data starting the day after the changeover.

The total costs to remove the code and recover the information cost taxpayers more than $2.5 million.

“Cyber-sabotage is not a ‘prank.’ It is a very serious crime with real victims and real costs. In this case, the crime cost taxpayers $2.6 million. Thanks to great work by the investigators and prosecutor, Mr. Das is being held accountable for his criminal acts,” said John Stuart Bruce, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

“We are very pleased with today's guilty verdict and will do everything in our power to help bring to justice those who attempt to sabotage or disrupt U.S. Army operations in the defense of our nation,” said Director Daniel Andrews of the Computer Crime Investigative Unit for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.

“Let this be a warning to anyone who thinks they can commit a crime in cyberspace and not get caught. We have highly trained and specialized investigators who will work around the clock to uncover the truth and preserve Army readiness.”

Scott Berson: 706-571-8578, @ScottBersonLE