Emerging Tech

Woman deletes $2.5M worth of files in mistaken revenge bid

The employee of an architect firm, believing that she was about to get fired, went on a silent rampage. In just a few hours over a weekend, she deleted $2.5M worth of computer files in a mistaken bid to exact revenge.

The employee of an architect firm, believing that she was about to get fired, went on a silent rampage. In just a few hours over a weekend, she deleted $2.5M worth of computer files in a mistaken bid to exact revenge.

The trigger appeared to be a help-wanted ad placed by her boss, which described an open administrative assistant position that sounded like her own job.

Excerpt from The Register:

Marie Lupe Cooley, 41, used her own account credentials to access the server of Steven E. Hutchins Architects and delete seven years' worth of drawings. The firm's alarm company said someone entered the premises at 11 p.m. on Sunday and was there for about four hours.

Fortunately though, firm owner Steven Hutchins was able to recover the files. "It was not a sensationalistic amount of money," he told The Register, referring to the cost of the consultant he paid to perform the recovery.

Cooley was released on bail after being charged with $1,000 worth of damage to computers.

As it turned out, Cooley's job was never under threat. The help-wanted position was actually a new position to assist Hutchin's wife. It is unclear at this moment what kind of action the firm will take with Cooley.

What kind of measures do you take against potential saboteurs, both within or outside the IT department?

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

9 comments
NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]It is unclear at this moment what kind of action the firm will take with Cooley.[/i] Termination (of her employment, of course) with prejudice might be a good idea... Edit: clarify

paulmah
paulmah

What kind of measures do you take -- or would recommend against potential saboteurs, both within or outside the IT Department?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Dumb person deletes files. Someone comes in spot's no files, reports it, they get restored and dumb ass get's sacked. Now you could argue that this person should not have had the ability to delete drawings, but someone has to and the only defence against sabotage or even simple mistake is a copy of said file somewhere. At a certain level of authority there is no defence at all, except not to 'incite' someone to an act of sabotage in the first place. So obviously you apply methods of differing cost, complexity and impact at different levels.

RFink
RFink

Deleting data is a bad idea. Every company on the planet has backups. Renaming files however... Rename file A to B and B to C and C to A,etc. Pollute the backups, that's the ticket! :)

mrogers
mrogers

Backups, yes... But given the nature of our firm (a design and planning firm) we have over 3 Tb of live backups two times per day (7am and noon) and we have a differential every night. This allows our employees to use "previous versions" within Windows Explorer for their blunders and "oops" moments. We have major backups that occur on the weekends and we also have a program that works with AD that backs up every file that is actually deleted as well. Live backups have an 8-month to 1-year lifespan and our major backups still exist from even 1997. All on RAID5.

jaomadn
jaomadn

i guess small business stablishment have poor security or dont mind security details when it comes to there valuable data.

keith.wiley
keith.wiley

Once got called in for a client to try to do a fix on a "problem". It seems the CEO was a bit too familiar with one of the interns, his wife found out, so the intern had to go. As a parting gift, she embedded an image she had taken with her cell phone camera into every document in the document store (11 years of documentation and what not). Got called in late of a Friday, they wanted everything fixed before Monday morning when the staff returned. Hell hath no fury, etc.,etc.,etc. Still see the guy occasionally, have to be very careful not to laugh.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

her delete access. It may simply be that in her job she had to delete individual drawings and it wasn't possible to stop her doing del *.*. I just fail to see the need for all the panic and hoorah, that $2.5 million dollars 'deleted' engenders. All that was deleted was a local copy, if there had been no back up then her employers are too stupid to live never mind do business. Storm in a teacup this, what if she had nipped in and amended a dimension in a scattering of drawings. Detecting that would have taken a while, there would have been a very good chance of some of the changes being masked by normal work. They could have lost all their normal work between when they thought she'd done it and when they decided she must have, with a restore. Have they got anything to cope with that?. I doubt it, any fool can outwit a f'ing idiot, and that's all that happened in this case.

Editor's Picks