Gossip lands Education hacker in jail

An Education Department auditor who hacked his boss’ computer and told his co-workers about it will spend five months in jail, Justice Department officials said.

Kenneth Kwak, formerly an information technology systems auditor at Education’s Office of the Inspector General, pleaded guilty in March to one count of intentionally gaining unauthorized access to a government computer and extracting information from it, Justice spokesman Drew Wade said.

Kwak admitted he installed software on his supervisor’s computer that gave him access to his boss’ e-mail messages and Internet activity, Wade said. Kwak then shared the information with his co-workers.

He was prosecuted under the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s new zero-tolerance policy for breaking into federal computer systems, Justice officials said.

Once Kwak has served his time, he will spend another five months confined to his home with his movements electronically monitored, Justice officials said.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered Kwak to pay $40,000 in restitution to the federal government and spend three years under supervised release, including the five months at home, Wade said.

The Computer Crime Investigation Division of Education’s Office of the IG conducted the investigation, Justice officials said. Attorneys from the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of Justice’s Criminal Division prosecuted the case.

"This unfortunate incident demonstrates that accountability applies to everyone,” said John Higgins Jr., Education's IG. “We will continue to work with department and law enforcement officials to ensure the integrity of the department's computer systems."

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