16 January 2012

Man gets a year in prison for hacking, wiping medical competitor's computer

By Fran Jeffries
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

An Atlanta man has been sentenced to serve a year and a month in prison for hacking into a competing medical practice's computer to try to lure away patients.

Eric McNeal, 38, was charged with accessing a computer without authorization, including taking patients' personal information in order to send them marketing materials. He pleaded guilty to the charge on Sept. 28.

According to prosecutors, McNeal, an information technology specialist, worked for Atlanta Perinatal Associates, a medical practice in Atlanta. He left that company in November 2009 and went to work for a competing perinatal medical practice in the same building.

In April 2010, McNeal used his home computer to hack into his former employer's patient database. He downloaded the names, phone numbers and addresses of its patients, and then deleted patient the information from his former employer's system.

McNeal then used the patient names and contact information to launch a direct-mail marketing campaign to benefit his new employer. There is no evidence that McNeal downloaded or misused specific patient medical information, prosecutors said.

“Anyone who gives their personal information to a doctor or medical facility does not expect that their information will be hacked and used to make money," said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "This is cybercrime. Electronic information is bought, sold and stolen, often by someone who knows a system and, with a few keystrokes, makes our community vulnerable.”

Source Article: http://goo.gl/axgwz