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Great Britain

Jail for 'disgruntled' contractor who brought down Jet2's entire computer system in act of revenge

A "disgruntled" IT contractor who brought down an airline's entire computer system as revenge for being disciplined has been jailed.

Scott Burns, 27, of Morley, crashed Jet2's computer network for 12 hours by accessing their main domain and deleting user profiles, which caused an estimated £165,000 worth of lost business, a court heard.

Only the "quick thinking" actions of an employee who set up a new admin account to recover the back-up profiles prevented a complete disaster for the package holiday firm, Leeds Crown Court was told.

Burns had been disciplined for an unspecified incident during a roadshow event in Benidorm, Spain, when he worked as a contractor for the budget airline in 2017.

Rebecca Austin, prosecuting, said Burns left his position shortly after the disciplinary action, which caused him to "hold a grudge" against his former employers.

She told Leeds Crown Court the defendant accessed the email account of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays CEO Steve Heapy during a three-week spree in January 2018.

Ms Austin said these acts were "preparatory" and Burns was checking to see if he could access the computer system.

She said after Burns had brought down the system, he again accessed the emails of Mr Heapy to "see if he had got away with it".

Investigators were able to trace the unauthorised access back to his desktop computer and a laptop, with Burns having used two specific accounts on the devices to access the system.

Burns pleaded guilty to eight offences under the Computer Misuse Act (1990).

Michael Walsh, mitigating, told the court Burns had spent much of his youth in a behavioural unit rather than a mainstream school, but managed to get himself into a position where is "well qualified and good at what he does".

He told the court Burns was under the influence of alcohol when he crashed the systems and that he had only accessed Mr Heapy's inbox because of "curiosity and nosiness".

Mr Walsh said Burns had lost a well-paid job and ended a long-term relationship since the start of court proceedings against him.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said the wide-reaching impact of cyber crime could have had far worse consequences for Jet2's customers Sentencing Burns to ten months in prison, he said: "You are 27 years old and after a difficult childhood you have managed to obtain valuable qualifications and hold down a good job.

"One of those jobs was for Jet2 and you fell out with them and bore a grudge as a result.

"What you intended to do was cause as much damage to Jet2's computer system as you could.

"This was malicious and I am satisfied this was a revenge attack for a perceived slight you suffered.

"It was planned and could have had serious consequential effects. They were unable to trade for 12 hours."

Jamie Horncastle from the National Crime Agency, who investigated Burns, said: “Network intrusion is not a victimless crime.

"Not only did Burns’s actions have a potential financial impact on Jet2, it caused huge disruption to their staff and technical operations.

“These are serious offences.

“The evidence secured internally by Jet2 was extremely beneficial to this investigation.

"I would always encourage victims of such attacks preserve as much evidence as possible in the immediate aftermath – it will assist law enforcement in catching the perpetrator.”

A spokesperson for Jet2 said: “We welcome this sentencing, which sends out a strong message to others. We would also like to thank the National Crime Agency and the Crown Prosecution Service for pursuing this case.

“Our IT teams initiated a quick and comprehensive response, and there was no loss or theft of any customer, supplier or Group data whatsoever.”

Themes
ICO