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Hospital Employee Pleads Guilty to Five-Year Account Hacking Spree

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that a former employee of a New York City hospital has pleaded guilty to using malicious software to obtain the credentials of coworkers, which he subsequently misused to steal sensitive information.

Richard Liriano, 33, of the Bronx, New York, was IT worker at the unnamed NYC hospital. As an IT worker, Liriano had administrative-level access to computer systems. He misused those access rights to steal information, which he copied onto his own computer for personal use.

He used a keylogger to obtain the credentials of dozens of co-workers at the hospital between 2013 and 2018. Those credentials allowed Liriano to login to coworkers’ computers and online accounts and obtain sensitive information such as tax documents, personal photographs, videos, and other private documents and files. Other malicious software was also used to spy on his coworkers.

Liriano stole credentials to coworkers’ personal webmail accounts, social media accounts, and other online accounts. Liriano also gained access to hospital computers containing sensitive patient information. According to the DOJ, Liriano’s computer intrusions cost his employer around $350,000 to remediate.

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Between 2013 and 2018, Liriano accessed coworkers’ computers and personal accounts on multiple occasions looking for sensitive information. The majority of his 70+ victims were female. The DOJ reports that Liriano conducted searches of their personal accounts looking for sexually explicit photos and videos.

The computer intrusions were discovered and Liriano was arrested on November 14, 2019. On December 20, 2019, Liriano pleded guilty to one count of transmitting a program to a protected computer to intentionally cause damage.

“Liriano’s disturbing crimes not only invaded the privacy of his coworkers; he also intruded into computers housing vital healthcare and patient information, costing his former employer hundreds of thousands of dollars to remediate,” said  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “He will now be held accountable for his actions.”

Liriano faces a maximum jail term of 10 years and has been scheduled to be sentenced on April 15, 2020 by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.