Monday, January 17

The case of the employee who programmed periodic bugs in his software to ensure that he always had a job

David A. Tinley was a 62-year-old Siemens employee in Pennsylvania, United States, who in the face of the growing wave of automation projects one day decided to figure out how to always have a job. Come on, searched the way to be indispensable and not lose your source of income before the possible arrival of new software that would do its job.

Since 2000, Tinley was responsible for programming spreadsheet-based software, where Siemens was in charge of managing orders for electrical equipment. The detail is that within these spreadsheets there were code that was in charge of showing a fault every so often. It failed that he, and only he, knew how to solve because it was his software.

Faults that he and only he knew how to solve

And that’s how it was working since about 2002, according to the demand. Until it all fell apart in May 2016, when the software crashed again and Siemens called Tinley, who was not in Pennsylvania, so the company insisted that Tinley give them the password because they had a rush order.

Tinley ended up giving his password and Siemens found ‘logic bombs’ in spreadsheet scripts. Given this, Siemens had several people analyze the software, between programmers and lawyers, to discover what was in Tinley’s software. A task that, according to SiemensIt cost him $ 42,000 plus another 5,000 in “damages.”

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With all this evidence, Siemens filed a lawsuit against Tinley, whom it accused of fraud, of fixing non-existent problems in its software and charging for it, and of adding code to the complex spreadsheets that “it had no functional value, other than crashing the program randomly”.

Siemens showed everything he paid Tinley during those years, while Tinley just came to reset a watch and bill for his time, until the next time you were called again on the next failure.


Already in court, Tinley initially denied everything, and defended himself saying that he had not put ‘logic bombs’ in the code to incite Siemens to hire him again to fix the problem, but to protect your proprietary code. “My motives were honorable.” He even dared to say that the failure was due to updates that Microsoft sent for Excel.

After one by audience, Tinley admitted the act and pleaded guilty to intentional damage to a protected Siemens computer. Tinley se faced to a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $ 250,000. Finally I know dictated your sentence, and Tinley had to spend six months in prison and pay a fine of $ 7,500, about 6,700 euros.

Image | Jefferson Santos