Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much effort you pour into your projects; there will always be someone trying to rain on your parade. This was the experience here at Software Planet Group when totally out of the blue, in a New York pizzeria-style move of underhanded, mafia-like rivalry, our client was hacked by their long-time greatest competitor.
The victims in question were Ted and Marie Giouzelis, proud owners of The Lunchmaster, a school meal delivery solution.
According to Vishal Jangla, deputy district attorney of San Mateo County, California, the California Department of Education had been given an anonymous tip-off that the Lunchmaster’s web application was “dangerously unsecure.” Bizarrely, however, the tipsters had themselves obtained their personal student information, including pupil names, academic grades, meal preferences and other data.
“At first, though the Giouzelises did have an initial suspect in mind, we didn’t know for certain who was actually behind the attack,” Alex Lukavyi, SPG project manager, said. “So I immediately informed the dev team and we started to do our own digging.”
Concurrently, the Lunchmaster also contacted the FBI and county sheriff in April 2018, marking the beginning of a year-long criminal investigation.
Because Lukavyi in particular possessed a thorough understanding of the system, getting to the bottom of the attack was, in his view, a matter of personal responsibility. His intincts proved correct, as what he found was truly amazing.
“We were able to trace the breach back to an IP address in Danville, which is where the offices of Choicelunch, the Lunchmaster’s arch-nemesis, if you will, are located,” the developer said.
In the end, 40-year-old Keith Cosbey, the chief financial officer of Choicelunch, was arrested in April 2019 on charges of identity theft and unauthorised computer access. Though he has since been released on a $125,000 (£98,250) bond, if convicted of the charges above, he could be facing up to three years in prison.
But why then would a C-level executive risk not only his career but his very own freedom to take part in a petty food feud? Apparently — somewhat anticlimactically — it really did all come down to money, as according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the American school lunch business is worth a staggering $14 billion (£11 billion).
Still, to the Giouzelises, the arrest came as a shock in the same measure as a sigh of relief, as by the time the culprit was identified, speculation had been running wild.
“At one point, we even wondered if there was a spy in our client’s office”, Lukavyi said, “but thank goodness none of that was true!”
Instead, Software Planet Group were thanked by the county sheriff’s department, as we were able to save them an extraordinary amount of time.
As for Ted and Marie Giouzelis, well they have certainly had enough of Mr. Cosbey’s dirty shenanigans.
“We try to serve school lunches,” Ted Giouzelis said, “but it’s just so complicated sometimes.”
Lukavyi definitely agrees, but he is thankful for the learning experience.
“It was a very unfortunate situation, but do you know what? This isn’t the Sopranos! What doesn’t kill you makes you a better software company.”