It may be satisfying taking retaliatory action against a company that complains about the quality of your work and gets you fired, but consider the repercussions for such an action, as Deepanshu Kher, 32, from Delhi, India will be doing for the next two years while he serves his sentence in Federal prison.
Kher worked as an IT contractor for a US IT consulting firm from 2017 to May 2018. His employer won a contract to assist a Carlsbad, CA-based company with its migration to Microsoft Office 365 and Kher was sent to the company’s headquarters while the migration took place.
Unhappy with his standard of work, the company notified their contractor and Kher was recalled and replaced in January 2018. Kher then lost his job at the IT consulting firm on May 4, 2018 and moved back to Delhi a month later.
Unhappy with the complaint, Kher decided to take revenge on the Carlsbad company and hacked into their server on August 8, 2018 and deleted 1,200 of the company’s 1,500 Office 365 accounts. With extremely limited access to their Office 365 environment, the majority of its employees were unable to access email, calendars, meeting documents, corporate directories, video and audio conferences, contact lists, and their Microsoft Teams environment. The company had to completely shut down for two days while the Office 365 environment was restored. The company could not even let its customers and vendors know about the reason for the shutdown or when business would resume.
While the company was able to reopen for business after two days, the problems didn’t end there. Employee contact lists had to be rebuilt from scratch, employees were unable to access folders they previously had access to and were not receiving meeting invites and cancellations. The company continued to experience IT problems with their Office 365 environment for the next 3 months and lost more than $560,000 as a result of Kher’s actions. “[I]n my 30-plus years as an IT professional, I have never been a part of a more difficult and trying work situation,” said the company’s Vice President of IT.
On January 11, 2021, Kher flew back to the United States, completely unaware that there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. When he arrived in the country he was arrested. On March 22, 2021, Kher was sentenced to 2 years in jail and 3 years’ supervised release and was ordered to pay $567,084 in restitution to the Carlsbad company. Kher can be considered fortunate, as intentional damage to a protected computer carries a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
“This act of sabotage was destructive for this company,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “Fortunately, the defendant’s revenge was short-lived and justice has been delivered.”