28-year-old Ashley Liles, a former IT security analyst, has been sentenced to over three years in prison for attempting to blackmail his employer during a ransomware attack. Exploiting his position, Liles intercepted a ransom payment intended for cybercriminals and impersonated the attackers to redirect the funds to his own cryptocurrency wallet.
He even accessed a board member’s private emails and altered the original blackmail messages to deceive the company further, but his unauthorized activities were eventually exposed during internal investigations.
Despite taking precautions and erasing data from his personal devices, Liles’ actions were discovered when SEROCU’s cybercrime team seized his computer and recovered incriminating evidence. At first, he vehemently denied involvement, but during a recent court hearing at Reading Crown Court, he finally pleaded guilty, five years after the initial incident.
As a result of his crimes, Liles was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for both blackmail and unauthorized access to a computer with intent to commit other offenses.
According to UK legislation, unlawful computer entry can result in a prison term of up to two years, while blackmail carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.