Former airline employee sentenced for hacking reservation system


ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A California woman who tampered with PenAir’s reservation and ticketing system last year has been sentenced in federal court.

Prosecutors say Suzette Kugler, 59, of Desert Hot Springs, Calif., was sentenced to five years of probation and 250 hours of community service. Kugler pleaded guilty to a felony fraud charge for tampering with the company’s reservation system, and agreed to pay more than $5,600 to the company.

Kugler had worked for the company for a long time, including administering the database system on which the airline depended for ticketing and reservations. Shortly before she retired, dissatisfied with her circumstances, prosecutors say, she created fake employee accounts that were unauthorized.

Investigation revealed that upon her retirement, Kugler used her knowledge of the database to create more unauthorized employee accounts with high-level privileges, and then used those accounts to destroy critical information in what the prosecutors called a “series of network intrusions.”

The attacks on the system were intended to prevent employees in any of the eight airports to which PenAir flies from being able to book, ticket, modify, or board any flight until the stations were added back into the system.

A press release from prosecutors says PenAir personnel had to work through the night to bring the airline locations back online.

The court said the airline was able to fix the damage caused before it caused significant disruption for travelers in Alaska and other states.

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