Shawn Carpenter awarded 4.7mil vs. Sandia Labs

In January of 2006 I posted about an article called “Chinese Cyber Spies and the Idiocy of Bureaucracy” Security Analyst Shawn Carpenter regarding his wrongful termination from Sandia Labs. It seems that during the course of his duties for Sandia Labs Mr. Carpenter identified an ongoing series of attacks that appeared to be directly from the Chinese government, he dubbed this effort “Titan Rain“. Mr. Carpenter sought assistance from his supervisors and upon being snubbed he went to the FBI with the information he had gathered in an effort to protect national security interests, for this he was terminated from Sandia and had his security clearances temporarily striped.

This is no big surprise as information warfare of this sort is not uncommon and the government who doesn’t employ it is far behind the current trend. Now, more than two years later, a jury trial has awarded Shawn Carpenter almost 4.7 million dollars in compensation for back wages and wrongful termination in his court case vs Sandia.

Wary of the gray legal area involved in tracking Internet attacks back to foreign servers, Sandia supervisors told Carpenter that it wasn’t in the lab’s interest to follow or stop the attackers. They ordered him to stop and not to share information on the attacks, even after the FBI had requested permission to have him work the case under their supervision.

The attacks ā€” code named Titan Rain ā€” are still hitting secure government networks here and abroad. And the country can thank in large measure the type of fecklessness that Sandia’s managers showed in handling Carpenter’s case. Sandia actually has a huge security apparatus designed to ensure that the nuclear lab’s secrets stay safe. But when Carpenter said he would continue trying to solve the case on his own time as a matter of conscience, Sandia trained that security apparatus on him. They investigated him, harangued him, stripped him of his security clearance and ultimately fired him.

See The Register, Network World and Search Security for more.

Hat tip goes to WiresnSparks for the heads up.

On a side note, they mention the “Grey Legal Area” in the article above. There is quite a bit of very beneficial work that goes on in the “Grey Legal Areas” between law enforcement and the civilian sector. The actions by Sandia Labs in this case sent a message to people in this area that added an additional threat to an already dangerous undertaking. This ruling sends a fairly clear message, in my opinion, that work in these areas can continue and while it is far from “safe” for those who choose to do it at least it’s not getting any worse.

3 Responses to “Shawn Carpenter awarded 4.7mil vs. Sandia Labs”

  1. Blackflag,
    Thanks so much for the update on Carpenter’s case. I’ve been studying abroad for the past year, and stumbled across your great blog online. The fact that he won against an employer that clearly had much more resources available than he did clearly shows that he did the right thing. He stood up for his beliefs, and was vindicated in the end. People like this make me proud to be an American.

  2. Hi Erica,
    Glad you found it useful, thanks for stopping by and taking to the time to comment.

  3. Hello would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using?

    I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a
    hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then
    most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique.
    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

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