A former information technology employee of a Lower Hutt sauce and condiment manufacturer has been fined more than $8000 after hacking into the firm's network and accessing private emails. The case is the National Cyber Crime Centre's first prosecution and conviction. Geraint Jones, an IT systems engineer, was employed to build an IT network for Groenz, formerly French Maid Foods, in 2004, and worked there until September 2008, according to court documents. From that point he carried out consultancy work for the firm on a contract basis, but Groenz terminated the relationship in July 2009 after he had a falling-out with management over a telecommunications contract. In September he hacked into the firm's system, and destroyed its phone server – wiping out phone data. A search warrant carried out by the cyber crime centre revealed that Jones had also accessed emails between Groenz management about him, and between Groenz and the centre about him, as well as emails between the managing director and his daughter. Jones pleaded guilty in Wellington District Court to damaging and interfering with a computer system and accessing a computer system without lawful authorisation. He was fined $2500 and ordered to pay $5737 to the firm to cover the cost of restoring and securing its network. Crime centre chief Detective Senior Sergeant John van den Heuvel says most IT managers are honest people but companies, particularly smaller businesses, should take more interest in their IT systems and arrangements. "They [Groenz] weren't aware of the set-ups and safety measures in place, or, more importantly, what wasn't in place." Groenz managing director Fred Groen says it has since strengthened its IT systems . The incident was a massive breach of trust, he says. The cyber crime unit was set up last year to provide a single reporting point for cyber crime, patrol the internet for illegal online activity, and provide investigative skills to police.
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