An ex-contractor at Fannie Mae was indicted Tuesday on computer intrusion charges for allegedly planting malware designed to destroy data on the mortgage company's network.
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Rajendrasinh Babubhai Makwana, 35, of Glen Allen, Va., worked at Fannie Mae's Urbana, Md., facility for two years as a contract computer programmer until he was fired Oct. 24, federal officials in Maryland said. As part of a group that created computer scripts for Fannie Mae, he had access to the organization's 4,000 servers across the country.
On the day he was fired, Makwana allegedly installed a malicious script that was set to activate Jan. 31 and "designed to spread throughout the Fannie Mae network of computers and destroy all data," Department of Justice officials said in a press release.
A senior engineer discovered the malware, which was embedded in a routine program, on Oct. 29. The script was removed that day and the suspect was arrested Jan. 6. He was scheduled to be arraigned Friday and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
When Makwana was fired, Fannie Mae reportedly did not immediately terminate his computer access.
"With economies so rocky at the moment anyway and confidence in the financial system amongst the general public badly shaken in recent months, it would be very bad news indeed for any institution to be hit in this way," Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos wrote in a blog post Thursday.
"As belts tighten and the credit crunch continues to hit around the world, more and more companies will be making the decision to make staff and contractors redundant … a disaffected employee could create havoc inside your organization so make sure that appropriate security is in place," he added.