Former Contractor Arrested After Hacking Grainger Inventory Servers

A former information technology contractor has been arrested by the FBI for allegedly hacking into the Grainger's computer servers multiple times in 2016.

A statement U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois Thursday said that Edward Soybel, 34, illegally accessed Grainger's servers at its Lake Forest, IL headquarters on several occasions during July 2016, intentionally damaging Grainger's automated inventory management program. An indictment in Chicago federal court stated the program operates Grainger's on-site dispensing machines and has approximately 18,000 U.S. customers.

Soybel was employed as a technical support contractor at Grainger's facility in Niles, IL until his termination in early 2016.

The indictment charges Chicago-resident Soybel with 10 counts of intentionally causing damage to protected computers, one count of attempting to cause damage to protected computers, and one count of attempting to access a protected computer without authorization.

According to the attorney's office, Soybel was arrested Wednesday morning and remained in federal custody as of Thursday's statement. He pleaguiltyot guity to the charges during an arraignment Wednesday afternoon. A status hearing was set for Thursday afternoon.

Soybel was arrested Wednesday morning and he remains in federal custody.  He pleaded not guilty to the charges during a Wednesday afternoon arraignment before U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly in Chicago. A status hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. today before Judge Kennelly.

The indictment says Grainger maintained computer servers for its on-site machines in Niles. Soybel worked at the facility as a contractor from November 2014 to February 2016, upon which his server access was deactivated. He then hacked the servers multiple times that following July.

The attorney's office statement says intentionally causing damage to protected computers and attempting to cause damage are each punishable by up to 10 years in prison, while attempting to access a protected computer without authorization is punishable by up to one year.

Grainger — the largest MRO products distributor in the U.S. — is No. 2 on Industrial Distribution's Big 50 List.

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