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Case Against Indicted IT Admin Looks Airtight. Too Airtight

July 13th, 2011

Although it’s standard procedure to deactivate any passwords for a terminated employee, there didn’t initially appear to be any reason to deactivate every VPN account that employee had issued.

A Secret Service memo of statements Yin gave to Special Agent Timothy Desrochers lays out the essence of the government’s case. If true, it would seem that the network administrator’s anonymous attack was done without much attempt to cover IP tracks. That seems unlikely, though. If anyone would know of the need to cover IP tracks—and various techniques to do so—it would likely be someone who had spent nine years working as a Gucci network administrator, specializing in security issues.

That said, this is the timeline presented: Yin was fired in 2010. In 2009, someone using Yin’s username and password issued a token to someone who didn’t exist and the name “John Bare” was used.

“Yin was shown a record from Yahoo related to the creation of the E-mail address Yin admitted to creating the E-mail account but stated he could not recall when he created it or for what reason. Yin was informed that the E-mail was only used to communicate with Gucci IT staff on five different dates,” the Secret Service memo said.

The memo also said Yin was then shown an IP log from that E-mail account and that it “was created and accessed exclusively from” the same IP address that routinely accessed Yin’s personal Yahoo account.

“Yin admitted that he had accessed Gucci’s VPN after being fired in order to retrieve personal documents and technical notes he had stored on the network. Yin stated he could not recall the date when he accessed the VPN or where he had stored the files on Gucci’s network,” the government notes said. “Yin also stated that he could not recall how many times he had accessed Gucci’s VPN after he was fired. Yin stated he could not recall which VPN token he used to access Gucci’s VPN after he was fired.”

The agents then used more IP address records. “Yin was shown a record from QRadar from the night of Nov. 12, 2010. Yin agreed that it indicated Gucci’s VPN being accessed from [the IP address Verizon said was associated with Yin’s home address] by Bare,” presumably linking Bare VPN access with Yin’s home.

During a search of Yin’s home, agents said they found two VPN tokens. “Yin stated that the VPN tokens were from Gucci and he had not returned them when he was fired because they were old. Yin also indicated that he had two tokens because one must have been turned into him and he forgot to give it to the people who handle the VPN tokens at Gucci,” the memo said. “Yin stated he did not know why he had a token issued to Bare and could not recall if he used it.”

This was a strange line: “Yin told investigators that he could not recall what his duties were at Gucci and denied having an advanced knowledge of their network infrastructure.” He was a nine-year veteran network administrator for Gucci and he said he didn’t have an advanced knowledge of its network infrastructure? How could he have held that role and not possessed such knowledge? This raises three questions: Did the agents get anything this guy said written down correctly? If they had accurate notes, did he expect anyone to believe that? And if the notes are accurate and he really didn’t know much about the Gucci network, what took Gucci so long to fire him?


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