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[ISN] St. Joseph man held as hacker

Forwarded from: William Knowles <wk@xxxxxxx>


December 21, 2002

Federal indictment names Richard W. Gerhardt, 43, in unauthorized
access case

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A St. Joseph man was indicted Thursday for
unauthorized computer intrusion.

Richard W. Gerhardt, 43, was charged in an indictment made public
Friday. The indictment said he gained unauthorized access to the
network computer system of Nestle USA. The crime is alleged to have
occurred while Mr. Gerhardt was employed as an information- systems
consultant working primarily at the Friskies Petcare plant in St.  

Friskies Petcare is a corporate subsidiary of Nestle USA, which in
turn is a subsidiary of Nestle S.A. of Vevey, Switzerland.

On five separate occasions between Aug. 12, 2001, and June 10, 2002,
the indictment alleges Mr. Gerhardt gained access to the Nestle
network computer system without authorization. Mr. Gerhardt allegedly
downloaded about 5,000 user account passwords from Nestle's system.  
While on the system, Mr. Gerhardt allegedly stored the stolen
passwords in another file.

This is the first case of computer hacking ever prosecuted in the
Western District of Missouri, which recently launched a new Cyber
Crimes and Child Exploitation Unit, said U.S. Attorney Todd Graves.

One of the unit's responsibilities is to handle computer intrusions,
copyright and trademark violations, theft of trade secrets, economic
espionage and Internet fraud. Computer intrusion or "hacking" cases
typically involve matters such as unauthorized access to computer
systems by employees, attacks resulting in service outages, system
penetrations by outsiders, theft of proprietary information, and
sabotage of data or networks.

These cases include intrusions into commercial or private computer
systems as well as government computer systems where sensitive or
national security information may be compromised, said Don Ledford, a
spokesman for Mr. Graves' office.

The various offices and facilities of Nestle USA and Nestle S.A.  
throughout the United States and the world, including the Friskies
Petcare plant in St. Joseph, are linked together by a network computer
system, said Burton Taylor, a spokesman for Mr. Graves' office.

Any computer or server connected to that system, Mr. Graves said, is a
"protected computer" under federal law.

Because of Mr. Gerhardt's alleged attack on the computer system,
Nestle had to conduct a damage assessment, verify the security and
restore computer integrity, Mr. Ledford said.

Mr. Gerhardt was arrested Friday and taken before U.S. Magistrate
Judge Sarah W. Hays for an initial court appearance.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Porter is prosecuting the case. The
Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. No date has
been set for a trial.


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