Sudhish Kasaba Ramesh, an Indian citizen on an H1-B visa has pleaded guilty to “Damaging Cisco’s Network.”
Employee malcontent can lead to dire consequences. Something that worldwide leader in IT, networking, and cybersecurity solutions company, Cisco learned the hard way.
A former Cisco employee, Sudhish Kasaba Ramesh has pleaded guilty for damaging and exploiting the company’s internal networks. His reckless action resulted in obliterating more than 16,000 Webex Teams application.
In order to ensue remedial measures, Cisco had to spend a whopping $1.4 million and refund $1 million to the affected customers.
Cisco Webex Teams provides an easy-to-use collaboration solution that connects people or teamwork anytime and anywhere. Including interactive features such as instant messaging, file sharing, video conferencing, and calling amongst others.
However, five months after changing jobs, the 30-year-old perpetrator, agrees that he purposely hacked into the company’s Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure and deployed code from his Google Cloud Project subsequently, erasing 456 virtual machines associated with Webex Teams.
It is noteworthy that this unnerving incident has compromised no customer data or information. Also, Ramesh’s actual intentions and motives remain undisclosed.
Ramesh has pleaded guilty to deliberately accessing Cisco’s protected network without acquiescence and nefariously causing damages. His offense, according to the US Department of Justice (DoJ), could carry a maximum statutory punishment of five years and $250,000 fine. He has been released on a $50,000 bond but his sentencing has been scheduled for December 2020.
In a press release, the DoJ stated that:
Ramesh’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 9, 2020, before The Honorable Lucy H. Koh, U.S. District Court Judge, in San Jose. The maximum statutory penalty for the offense of Intentionally Accessing a Protected Computer Without Authorization and Recklessly Causing Damage, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(5)(B) and (c)(4)(A)(i)(I), is 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Pertaining to the case, the court documents [PDF] state that Ramesh is on an H1-B visa, and his green card application is still pending. His actions could actually cost him immigration consequence including being deported to his native country India.
However, his current employer at Stitch Fix is still willing to work with Ramesh and is also exploring avenues regarding the perpetrator’s employment and green card penalties. His future in the US, therefore, remains uncertain but if Ramesh is deported, he will be able to serve his supervised probation in India whilst working for his current employer.
Reportedly, Ramesh is cooperating with the system and has handed over his passport citing there is no flight risk nor will he harm anyone.
Nevertheless, his actions have cost the leading IT company millions which ironically contradicts with Tesla’s employee who also was a non-US citizen but despite being offered $1 million by Russian hacker to deploy malware in the company’s internal system, he chose to cooperate with the FBI and actually helped catch the criminal and his associate.
But instances similar to Ramesh’s incident are not unusual. In 2018, Israeli authorities arrested a 38-year-old man who allegedly stole confidential information from the NSO Group to be sold on dark web marketplaces in exchange for cryptocurrencies. However, he was later busted by a potential buyer who suspected foul play and informed the NSO Group instead.