deepanshu kher

The Microsoft logo is displayed during a presentation at the Mobile World Congress on the eve of the world's biggest mobile fair in Barcelona on Feb. 24, 2019. (Gabrier Bouys/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of California March 22 announced that Indian IT contractor Deepanshu Kher was sentenced to two years in prison for accessing the server of a Carlsbad company and deleting over 1,200 accounts from the company’s 1,500 Microsoft user accounts.

According to court documents, Kher was employed by an IT consulting firm from 2017 through May 2018. In 2017, the consulting firm was hired by the Carlsbad company to assist with its migration to a Microsoft Office 365 environment, the release said.

In response, the consulting firm sent its employee, Kher, to the company’s Carlsbad headquarters to assist with the migration, the release added.

The company was dissatisfied with Kher’s work and relayed their dissatisfaction to the consulting firm soon after Kher’s arrival. In January 2018, the consulting firm pulled Kher from the company’s headquarters. A few months later, on May 4, 2018, the firm fired Kher, and a month after that, in June 2018, Kher returned to Delhi, India, according to the attorney’s office.

On Aug. 8, 2018, two months after his return to India, Kher hacked into the Carlsbad company’s server and deleted over 1,200 of its 1,500 MS O365 user accounts, the release adds.

The attack affected the bulk of the company’s employees and completely shut down the company for two days. As the company’s vice president of IT explained, the impact was felt inside and outside the company. Employees’ accounts were deleted – they could not access their email, their contacts lists, their meeting calendars, their documents, corporate directories, video and audio conferences, and Virtual Teams environment necessary for them to perform their jobs.

Outside the company, customers, vendors and consumers were unable to reach company employees (and the employees were unable to reach them). No one could inform these buyers what was going on or when the company would be operational again, the court records added. Unfortunately, even after those two days, the problems remained, according to a news release.

In addition to the two years in custody, Judge Huff sentenced Kher to three years’ supervised release and restitution to the company of $567,084, the amount that the company paid to fix the problems which Kher caused, it said.

Kher, an Indian national, was arrested when he flew from India to the United States on Jan. 11, 2021, unaware of the outstanding warrant for his arrest.

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