Man Detained For Breaking into Cal-ISO Computer

U.S. government, on April 18, 2007, arrested a contract worker on charges of meddling with computers located at the main office of the institution that regulates the electricity transmission in California.

The 32-year old Lonnie Charles Denison faces accusation for stopping the internal power transmission to the data center of California Independent System Operator. The result was that the agency could not control the PCs used for transacting energy, said the FBI's arrest statement.

In addition to the tampering, there was a bomb threat on April 16, 2007 at the institution's Folsom headquarters. This drew the notice of the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI due to the impact the threat could make on the state's power distribution point. The California Independent System Operator regulates 25,000 miles of electricity transmission lines and monitors wholesale power business.

According to Greg Fishman of the ISO, on Sunday April 15, 2007 night, the computer network running the state's electricity markets came to halt. SFGate.com published Fishman's statement on April 18, 2007. Although officials attended to the problem in about 30 minutes, the systems were up and running only around 6a.m on the following Monday (April 16, 2007).

According to the FBI affidavit, Denison who was employed to operate computers applied a security key card by which he could access the facility's data center. Once he entered it, Denison smashed the glass cover of the emergency power-off button. As he pressed the button, the facility's internal power supply to the data center snapped off.

The employer revoked Denison's security clearance on April 18, 2007 following a dispute, the affidavit said. On April 15, Denison made two remote attempts to access the institution's computer system but failed.

Denison is with a serious charge of destroying an energy distributing facility. He faces a maximum detention of five years in jail and a fine of U.S. $5,000. Right now he is behind bars and is scheduled for trial in Sacramento's federal court.

There is no charge on Denison for the bomb threat, which happened 12 hours after the tampering. The ISO confirmed the bomb threat on April 18, 2007.

Related article: Man Sues and Wins against ISP for Spamming Mail

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