[ISN] PG&E says firm fired for hacking

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Sep 21 00:10:47 EDT 2005


By Greg Chang

PG&E Corp's Pacific Gas & Electric utility said it fired a consulting
company suspected of hacking into the computer system of an irrigation
district thats trying to take over territory from the utility.

An employee of the consultant, Meridian Pacific Inc., allegedly
obtained computer files last week from the Manteca-based South San
Joaquin Irrigation District, which is attempting to take over
territory with about 35,000 power meters, PG&E spokesman Jon Tremayne
said in an interview Monday. Executives at Meridian didnt respond
immediately to a phone call seeking comment.

Its very clearly unethical behavior, and from our perspective its
absolutely unacceptable, Tremayne said.

The incident underscores challenges San Francisco-based PG&E faces
from public agencies and government-owned utilities seeking to offer
electric services at lower prices. The Sacramento Municipal Utility
District is attempting to take over part of the utilitys territory
near the cities of Davis and Woodland.

Im disappointed but Im not surprised, said Jeff Shields, utility
systems director at the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, who has
been spearheading the districts drive to acquire a 112-square-mile
portion of Pacific Gass territory.

A Meridian Pacific employee who was attending the Sept. 13 meeting of
the South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts board allegedly broke into
the districts system and downloaded files by accessing a wireless
network, Tremayne said.

Six or seven of the documents were e-mailed to an employee of PG&E,
Tremayne said. The employee contacted the utilitys legal department
after reviewing two of the documents, and the Federal Bureau of
Investigation and South San Joaquin Irrigation District were notified,
he said.

FBI officials werent immediately available for comment.

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