Former Massachusetts public school information technology manager sentenced for destroying the school’s computer network

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The defendant deactivated the phone system of the school and thousands of user accounts on the school network

BOSTON (WWLP) – An Ayer man was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Boston for committing a cyberattack against the computer network of his former employer, a public high school in Essex County.

According to the Department of Justice, Conor LaHiff, 30, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to one month in prison and three years of supervised release, with the first 12 months served at home.  In addition, he was ordered to pay $34,110 in restitution. LaHiff pleaded guilty in December 2023 to one count of unauthorized damage to protected computers.

“Individuals who exploit their specialized knowledge to retaliate against a former employer through costly and dangerous cyberattacks will be held accountable,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement counterparts to protect the security of the computer network we rely upon every day.”

“Committing a cyber intrusion to settle a score with your former employer is a bad idea but that’s exactly what Conor LaHiff did, and in doing so, he deactivated a high school’s phone system along with thousands of network user accounts,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “This short-sighted scheme has brought serious consequences and should serve as a warning to others: the FBI will track down and bring to justice cyber criminals, regardless of what their motivation is for willfully breaking the law.”

In June 2023, LaHiff was terminated from his position as a desktop and network manager at an Essex County public high school. LaHiff used his administrative privileges after he was terminated to deactivate and delete thousands of Apple IDs from the school’s Apple School Manager account – software used to manage student, faculty, and staff information technology resources.

He also deactivated more than 1,400 other Apple accounts and other IT administrative accounts, as well as the school’s private branch phone system, which left the school’s phone service unavailable for approximately 18 hours.

A similar position had been offered to LaHiff at another public high school after he was terminated for the charged conduct.

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Kayleigh Thomas is a digital reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Kayleigh on X @kayleighcthomas and view her bio to see more of her work.


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