Gucci Admin Gets Fired, Then Gets Even. Really Even

Written by Evan Schuman
April 6th, 2011

Hell hath no fury like a coder scorned. A Gucci network engineer, who was fired for what prosecutors said was “abusing his employee discount,” was indicted Monday (April 4) and accused of striking back at Gucci. He allegedly deleted several virtual servers, shut down a storage area network (SAN) and deleted corporate mailboxes. But the methods 34-year-old Sam Chihlung Yin used to eke out his revenge are even more interesting: He created a non-existent employee (prior to his being fired) and then issued the vapor worker a VPN token. The government says he then “tricked” IT staff into activating it.

If the accusations are true, then the network engineer certainly engaged in decidedly naughty behavior. But in terms of engaging in proper security procedures—especially if there was any payment-card data lurking in those servers—there’s plenty of black coal to go around. (New definition of the time duration equivalent of absolute zero: The interval between Gucci’s PCI QSA hearing about this indictment and when he sends an E-mail demanding a meeting.)

Gucci’s IT staff was “tricked” into activating a VPN token for a non-existent employee? That must have been some trick. How difficult is it to look up an employee and verify with a known manager that he/she needs that access and, by the way, actually exists?

This guy’s Capt. Tuttle was granted complete admin privileges, such that entire virtual servers could be deleted. That didn’t raise any eyebrows? And this non-existent worker had this access from June through November. Six full months of admin access and no one bothered to verify that this was a legitimate manager?

By the way, this non-existent employee’s network account was created by a fired network engineer. Shouldn’t standard policy be to carefully re-examine all recent activity by fired network engineers, for precisely this type of situation?

According to the indictment and people familiar with the prosecution efforts in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, network engineer Yin—a naturalized U.S. citizen from Taiwan, who worked out of Gucci’s IT operations in Secaucus, N.J.—was fired in May 2010 for abusing his employee discount by purchasing Gucci products in substantial bulk and then reselling those products in Asia.

Before he was fired, though, he laid a foundation for revenge. In court, prosecutors said there was no known profit motive for the retaliation: just revenge.


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