Security Experts:

Former Employee Admits Hacking, Damaging Cisco Systems

A former Cisco employee has pleaded guilty to hacking charges related to him accessing the networking giant’s systems and causing damage.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, 30-year-old Sudhish Kasaba Ramesh worked for Cisco until April 2018. A few months after he resigned from the company, he gained unauthorized access to Cisco’s AWS cloud infrastructure and deployed code that caused over 450 virtual machines associated with the Cisco Webex Teams application to be deleted.

Deleting the VMs resulted in more than 16,000 Webex Teams accounts being shut down for up to two weeks. Cisco spent roughly $1.4 million in employee time to respond to the incident and it had to refund over $1 million to impacted customers, authorities said.

There was no indication that customer data was compromised as a result of the incident. No information has been shared about the man’s motives.

At the time of the incident, many Webex users complained about the outage, but Cisco did not provide any information on its cause and there was no indication that it was the result of external activity.

Ramesh was charged with one count of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization and recklessly causing damage. He has pleaded guilty and is set to be sentenced in December. He has been released on a $50,000 bond.

Ramesh is based in San Jose, California, but court documents show the man is from India and he is in the United States on an H1-B work visa. He could be deported as a result of his actions, but court documents claim his current employer, online personal styling service Stitch Fix, “is willing to work with him regarding the possibility of his remaining in the country and continuing to work for the company.”

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.