An IT manager who sought revenge for an unfavorable job evaluation
was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison after being
convicted of intentionally triggering a massive data collapse on his
former employer's computer network.
Jon Paul Oson, 38, of Chula Vista, California, was sentenced to 63
months behind bars and ordered to pay more than $409,000 in
restitution, according to federal prosecutors in San Diego. He was
immediately taken into custody after the sentence was handed down on
Monday. It is one of the stiffest penalties ever for a computer hacking
Oson was hired in May 2004 as a network engineer at the Council of
Community Clinics in San Diego, a nonprofit that provides various
services to 17 regional health clinics in Southern California. He
performed well in that role and five months later was promoted to
technical services manager. He ended up bitterly resigning a year later
after a performance evaluation cited interpersonal difficulties,
according to court documents.
On December 23, Oson logged onto servers belonging to his former
employer and disabled the program that automatically backed up medical
records for thousands of low-income patients. Six days later, he logged
on again, and in the span of 43 minutes, methodically deleted the files
containing patients' appointment data, medical charts and other
The dollar cost of Oson's rampage was pegged at $409,337.83 and
accounted for expenses for technical investigations and moving to a
paper-based system in the weeks following the attack. But the real toll
came when doctors at North County Health Services no longer had medical
records for thousands of low-income patients who sought medical care.
North County Health Services contracted with Oson's employer to store
Health threat By destroying the records, Oson threatened the health of patients
who visited the clinic immediately after the attack, prosecutors
argued. They cited two examples, including a nine-year-old who had been
diagnosed with an ear infection several days before Oson's rampage.
When he returned a few weeks later, doctors had no record of the
previous diagnosis, and they also had no idea he was due for a routine
"Patients who visited the clinic in the weeks following the network
disruption were kept waiting hours and sometimes futilely while their
charts were located and delivered to the appropriate clinic and
doctor," prosecutors said in court documents. "With the shutdown of its
Practice Management system, NCHS had to shift to a paper-based system."
After ransacking his former employer's network, Oson took pains to
cover his tracks. When FBI agents raided his home in May 2006, they
found all but one of his PCs had been wiped clean, irretrievably
destroying data that might have shown he was behind the attacks.
But Oson slipped up and left other clues. One was an HP 2100
LaserJet printer he kept at his home and another was an HP LaserJet 4M
printer physically located near the workstation Oson used at his new
It just so happened that in the weeks leading up to the data
meltdown, an intruder had cased the network by logging in from at least
three different machines. One was a computer named "TEMP3" that was
equipped to work with an HP 2100 LaserJet printer. A second PC happened
to contain drivers for the HP 2100 and a LaserJet 4M.
Even more incriminating, the nickname of this second PC was "kuku"
and one of the printers it was configured to work with was named
"mike2003 HP Laserjet 4M". That just happened to match the name of
Oson's son and the network name of the printer sitting by his
"At the sentencing hearing, the court talked about the impact of
Oson's actions and his arrogance," Assistant US Attorney Mitchell
Dembin, who prosecuted the case, wrote in an email to The Reg.
"The court said that Oson seemed to think that he was the smartest guy
around but, as often happens, he ran into someone smarter (the FBI)."