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In Florida Hack, Planes Needing Maintenance Were Cleared

Lauren Lide, 26, has been arrested in connection with the Jan. 12, 2020 hack
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2021 4:06 PM CDT
Woman Allegedly Hacked Into Florida Flight System
Stock photo.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – On Jan 12, 2020, the CEO of a Florida flight school logged into his computer; what he saw didn't make sense. Derek Fallon of Melbourne Flight Training said that planes he knew to have been shelved for maintenance were cleared, meaning aircraft that might not have been safe to fly were no longer noted as such. The make, model, and tail numbers for a dozen planes were also gone. Ditto inspection limitations, which Fallon noted "would allow them to operate beyond required inspections," reports Vice. Fallon alerted the software maker but was told there were no widespread bugs, and so he grounded all planes.

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On Jan. 17, 2020, he called police. Now investigators say the changes were made by a former employee who allegedly hacked into the system. Suspicion initially fell on two people, per Fallon: His director of maintenance, who was fired the previous November, and the man's daughter, Lauren Lide, who quit her job as flight operations manager upon her dad being fired. The probe found the IP address associated with the hack belonged to the fired maintenance director, but he said he was clueless as to why that would be the case—though he did tell investigators "I'm kinda concerned about my daughter at this point."

He alleged Fallon put her through "torment" and she was eager to quit., reports WFLA He later "confessed" to the hack, but was unable to provide any details of it. Investigators ultimately found "Lauren Lide is one of only a few people in the area who had the knowledge, skills, and ability to alter" the records. Lide, 26, has been charged with fraudulent use of a computer and unauthorized access to a computer system or network. (Read more hackers stories.)

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