Aviva hacker sentenced to 18 months in jail

Only recently did I read an article on Mashable how a disgruntled employee can ruin a company, and now reports are coming in of another similar case.

This time it is about Richard Neale, co-founder of Esselar. He pleaded guilty to carrying out a revenge attack on Aviva, a company that contracted Esselar to run its security network.

He was sentenced to 18 months jail time for hacking 900 Aviva phones and wiping data.

According to a BBC report, the relationship between Esselar and Aviva had been "on a knife edge" before Neale's actions.

He sold his shares in the company after a falling out over an insurance payment in 2013. He had subsequently harboured resentment, according to his lawyer, Kevin Barry.

Prosecutors said that his actions had led Aviva to end its relationship with Esselar, meaning that the latter had missed out on an £80,000-per-year contract.

At a sentencing hearing at Guildford Crown Court on Monday, judge Neil Stewart said that Neale's actions had "damaged confidence and reputations in a way that can be far-reaching and serious".

The prosecutor, Fiona Alexander, said: "The aim of the attack was to ridicule Esselar. There was a degree of sophisticated planning.

"The offending persisted over a period of five months. The defendant was motivated by revenge - a serious aggravating feature. There was a grave breach of trust.

"It wasn't intended to target just Esselar but also... Aviva. Over 900 devices were wiped by the defendant's actions."

"Yes, we survived, but there were times we thought we may not. Our brand was damaged to the point we felt we needed to rebrand," the company said in a statement read to the court by Ms Alexander.

Neale had pleaded guilty to four counts of unauthorised or reckless acts with intent to impair computer operation, under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, at an earlier hearing.