Florida woman hacked flight system, cleared planes with maintenance issues to fly, police say

TAMPA (WESH) – A woman in Brevard County faces a slew of charges after she allegedly hacked Melbourne Flight Training’s computer system.

Authorities first knew something was wrong on January 12, 2020, when MFT CEO Derek Fallon logged into the Flight Training computer and noticed several things were turned off. He said make / model / tail numbers have been removed for 12 aircraft. Aircraft that had been flagged as having maintenance issues had been “cleared”.

An affidavit states that “which means that aircraft which may not have been safe to fly have been deliberately made” airworthy. ” “

Fallon also found that the inspection limitations had been removed.

He called the owner of the software and was told that there were no system wide issues.

Fallon ordered all thefts to be grounded until the information could be restored.

“From the time the data was changed and corrected, it was a situation that could have endangered human life,” Fallon wrote in an affidavit under oath.

Fallon has identified two suspects: a man who had served as MFT’s director of maintenance before being fired in November 2019, and his daughter, Lauren Lide, 26, who resigned as head of flight operations the same day. where his father was made redundant.

Investigators found that an identifier belonging to the current flight operations manager was used to make the dangerous changes to the flight software. However, the current flight operations manager signed an affidavit stating that he did not modify / delete the information on the aircraft.

Investigators determined that the IP address used to connect to the software belonged to Lauren Lide’s father. Lide’s father said he “had no idea” why his computer was being used to access the MFT computer.

Pressed to find out if he knew of anyone who would want to sabotage computer information, he said, “I’m a little worried about my daughter at this point.”

Lide’s father said Fallon made his daughter “miserable” and “lied” to her.

“She couldn’t wait to get out of there,” he said, according to an affidavit. “You don’t understand the torment he put on her.”

Lide’s father eventually “confessed” to sabotaging the computers, but police said he was unable to say what or how he had done.

Detectives determined that “Lauren Lide is one of the few people in the area with the knowledge, skills and ability to modify” the theft records.

She was charged with accessing an electronic device without authorization and modifying computer data programs without authorization.

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