When the U.S. Attorney's Office says "zero tolerance," it means just that. So after a Chantilly man employed as a federal computer-security specialist was busted for hacking into a U.S. Department of Education computer, he was punished accordingly.
LAST FRIDAY, May 12, in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Kenneth Kwak, 34, was sentenced to five months in prison followed by five months of confinement at home. Judge Royce Lambeth also ordered him to pay restitution to the U.S. government in the amount of $40,000.
Kwak pleaded guilty in March to one count of intentionally gaining unauthorized access to a government computer and thereby obtaining information.
Ironically, he had been working in an office responsible for ensuring the security of Department of Education computer systems. And in his plea, he admitted that he'd placed software on a supervisor's computer enabling him to access the computer's storage at will.
Kwak later used that access on numerous occasions to view his supervisor's intra-office and Internet e-mail, as well as his other Internet activity and communications. Making matters worse, he then shared this information with others in his office.
So it turned out to be a case of the proverbial fox guarding the henhouse — until he was the one apprehended. The U.S. Attorney's Office recently adopted a "zero-tolerance policy" regarding intrusions into U.S. government computer systems, and Kwak was prosecuted under this policy.
As part of the Chantilly man's sentence, Lambeth also placed him on three years supervised release. The five months of home incarceration with electronic monitoring was ordered as a special condition of Kwak's term of supervised release.
This offense was investigated by the Computer Crime Investigations Division of the Department of Education Inspector General's Office. Senior counsel William Yurek prosecuted the case with assistance from trial attorney Howard Cox.