- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 21, 2016

A defense contractor arrested on Wednesday faces one count of felony hacking related to a 2014 incident that caused payroll problems for the U.S. Army Reserve.

Mittesh Das of Atlanta, Georgia, is accused of intentionally causing damage to a U.S. Army computer program by transmitting malicious information, code and command on a protected computer, according to a federal indictment unsealed this week.

A grand jury decided to charge the defense contractor on April 5, but details of the case were only unsealed after he was arrested on Wednesday and brought before a federal magistrate.

Army investigators said Mr. Das executed a computer code in November 2014 that sidelined a program used by the government and subsequently delayed payment for soldiers just before the winter holidays.

“As charged, Mr. Das allegedly exploited his position as a cleared defense contractor to sabotage the U.S. Army Reserve’s personnel system and disrupt pay to our nation’s Soldiers,” Director Daniel Andrews of the Army’s Computer Crime Investigative Unit said in a statement.

“Cybercrime and insider threats present significant challenges to national security and military operations, and we will continue to root out those responsible and help bring violators to justice,” Mr. Andrew added.

Military officials initially blamed a computer glitch when soldiers weren’t paid on time in late 2014, but a probe conducted by the Army Criminal Investigation Command eventually led authorities to blame the contractor for causing the problem.

In a Dec. 16, 2014, article concerning the delays, the Army Times reported that soldiers were being paid an average of 17 days behind schedule as a result of a “glitch” that affected the Regional Level Application Software, a program that processes pay, soldier transfers, awards and promotions.

Online records indicate that Mr. Das operated an IT consulting company based out of Georgia as recently as 2015. He appeared in federal court in Atlanta on Wednesday, but charges were filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina where the Army Reserve maintains its headquarters at Fort Bragg.

Mr. Das faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said.

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