Deputies: Months after being fired, former CTO “nearly crippled” business by purposely deleting data

Computer Crime Arrest

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The sheriff's office arrested the former chief technology officer of a Suncoast company last week after detectives say he intentionally destroyed data after he was fired, nearly wiping out the business.

Joseph Hennessy, 39, of Sarasota was arrested last week and charged with Computer Crime Damage and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communication Device. He was previously the chief technology officer of a Suncoast business, which was unnamed in a probable cause affidavit.

According to the sheriff's office, Hennessy was hired by the company in May 2016 and fired in August 2019. On January 4 2020, the company discovered their computer system wasn't functioning properly and that multiple hard drives had been erased and formatted.

Detectives and digital forsenic experts responded and conducted a network intrusion investigation, discovering that the day before the damage was discovered, someone had connected to the company’s network and deleted the data.

The sheriff’s office requested information from Verizon Wireless, identifying Hennessy as the alleged perpetrator.

Detectives say he caused more than $100,000 in damage as the company worked to restore the data and bring their clients back online. In the probable cause affidavit, the sheriff’s office says the business “was nearly crippled.”

Hennessy was arrested February 13 and is currently free on bond.

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