Former TSA Contractor Gets Prison for Database Sabotage Attempt

A Colorado man was sentenced to two years in federal prison Jan. 11 for attempting to damage TSA databases.

A former contractor working at the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was sentenced to two years in prison for tampering with federal databases after he learned he was being fired.

Douglas James Duchak, 47, was sentenced Jan. 11 by U.S. Circuit Court Judge David M. Ebel. He was also ordered to pay more than $60,000 in restitution and to serve three years of supervised release following the completion of his prison sentence. He pleaded guilty Oct. 19, 2010, roughly seven months after he was indicted.

According to his plea deal, beginning in August 2004, Duchak was employed by a government contractor to work as a data analyst at the TSA's Colorado Springs Operations Center (CSOC). The CSOC loads data it receives from the federal government's Terrorist Screening Database and the United States Marshal's Service Warrant Information Network into its servers. Duchak worked there for five years, and was responsible for receiving information from various federal government databases and preparing that information to be uploaded into TSA's vetting database.

On Aug. 12, 2009, Duchak was told his responsibilities were being given to another employee, and that he would be performing other tasks in the future. He began training the new employee on how to upload information from the government databases. On Oct. 15, 2009, the contractor informed Duchak his position was being eliminated and his employment at the TSA center would be terminated in 15 days.

In retaliation, Duchak admitted, he accessed a sensitive database Oct. 22, 2009, and deleted instructional code from the program. The code was necessary to format dates of birth information received in connection with the arrest warrant database information.

Four days later, Duchak's replacement observed what he believed to be unauthorized code that would disrupt TSA's security screening function, authorities said. TSA personnel halted the computer function until they could ascertain the source and scope of the problems. On that same day, the defendant was contacted and notified that he should not return to work.

An investigation showed the unauthorized code was created and transmitted by Duchak Oct. 23, 2009, in an attempt to cause damage to the TSA's vetting databases.

"The collaborative effort of the FBI and Department of Homeland Security is indicative of the on-going working relationship between federal investigative agencies in order to combat all manners of federal violations," said FBI Special Agent in Charge James Davis, in a statement. "This investigation highlights the leveraging of federal law enforcement resources to protect the public from those who might be inclined to potentially place U.S. citizens in harm's way."