- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 31, 2009

ASSOCIATED PRESS

HAGERSTOWN, Md. | A fired Fannie Mae contract worker pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he planted a virus designed to destroy all the data on the mortgage giant’s 4,000 computer servers nationwide, according to federal prosecutors.

If the virus had been released as planned Saturday, the Justice Department said the disruption could have cost millions of dollars and shut down operations for a week at the largest U.S. mortgage finance company.

Rajendrasinh B. Makwana, 35, of Glen Allen, Va., pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to one count of computer intrusion, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Mr. Makwana, a citizen of India, was fired early on the afternoon of Oct. 24 from his job at Fannie Mae’s data center in Urbana, Md., about 35 miles from the company’s Washington headquarters, according to court records. An affidavit states that he was fired for erroneously writing programming instructions two weeks earlier that changed the settings on company servers.

Before surrendering his Fannie Mae badge and laptop computer at the end of the day, Mr. Makwana “intentionally and without authorization caused and attempted to cause damage to Fannie Mae’s computer network by entering malicious code,” according to an indictment returned Tuesday.

The code, if executed Saturday as planned, “would have resulted in destroying and altering all of the data on Fannie Mae servers,” the indictment states.

According to the affidavit signed by FBI Special Agent Jessica A. Nye on Jan. 6, a Fannie Mae engineer discovered the malicious instructions by chance Oct. 29. The programming instructions were removed that day and did no harm, according to the affidavit.


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