Lauren Lide, 26, former flight operations manager at Melbourne Flight Training in Florida, has been accused of tampering with airplane data after her father was fired from the school and she quit
A Florida woman has been arrested on multiple felony counts, accused of hacking into a flight training school’s computer system and tampering with data as part of a plot to avenge her father’s firing.
Lauren Lide, 26, was taken into custody on Saturday and booked into the Brevard County jail on charges of modifying computer data programs without authority, and accessing a computer or an electronic device without authority.
According to an affidavit obtained by WESH, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into the hacking incident back in January 2020, when Derek Fallon, CEO of Melbourne Flight Training, logged into the school’s computer system and noticed several red flags.
Fallon reported that information about 12 aircraft, including their model and tail numbers, had been deleted, and that some airplanes with maintenance issues were listed as cleared for flight.
She was accused of deleting information about 12 planes at the flight school, and clearing aircraft that had been listed as having maintenance issues for flight
As a precaution, Fallon grounded all flights for two days until the data could be restored, including information about aircraft inspections.
‘Between the time the data was altered and fixed, it was a situation that could have endangered human life,’ Fallon wrote in the affidavit.
The flight school executive then pointed a finger of blame for the hack at a father-and-daughter former employee: Hampton and Lauren Lide, of Palm Bay.
According to the affidavit, Hampton Lide, 60, was fired from his job as Director of Maintenance at MFT in November 2019, and his daughter quit her job as Flight Operations Manager the same day.
Over the course of the 21-month investigation that followed, cops uncovered that login information belonging to MFT’s current flight operations manager was used to tamper with the flight software, but the person in that position signed an affidavit confirming that he did not make those changes.
Eventually, investigators learned that the IP address used in the hack belonged to Hampton Lide, but he assured them he ‘didn’t have a clue’ how the flight data were changed.
When questioned about who would want to tamper with the information, Lide was quoted as telling investigators: ‘I’m kinda concerned about my daughter at this point.’
All planes at the school had to be grounded for two days until the data were restored
Hampton Lide then said Fallon, MFT’s chief executive officer, made his daughter ‘miserable’ and put her through ‘torment’ during her tenure at his company, also adding that she was angry at her boss for firing him.
Authorities said Hampton Lide then tried to confess to hacking the system, but authorities said he could not explain what he did or how.
They ultimately concluded that Lauren Lide had the skills and ability to breach the software and alter the plane information.
Lauren was released from jail within hours of her arrest after posting bond totaling $9,000.