Former Ubiquiti dev pleads guilty in data theft and extortion case

A former Ubiquiti Networks employee accused of hatching an elaborate plot to first steal nearly $2 million from his employer, extort more, then later orchestrating a smear campaign against the company pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges Thursday.

Nickolas Sharp, 36, of Portland Oregon now faces a maximum of 35 years in prison after pleading to one count of transmitting a program to a protected computer that intentionally caused damage, one count of wire fraud, and one count of making false statements to the FBI.

“Nickolas Sharp’s company entrusted him with confidential information that he exploited and held for ransom. Adding insult to injury, when Sharp wasn’t given his ransom demands, he retaliated by causing false news stories to be published about the company which resulted in his company’s market capitalization plummeting by over $4 billion,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement Thursday. “Sharp’s guilty plea today ensures that he will face the consequences of his destructive actions.”

The bizarre story behind the Sharp case is the stuff of CISO nightmares. As we previously reported at the time, Sharp was charged in connection with the high-profile Ubiquiti data theft and ransom attempt in late 2021.

Prosecutors accused Sharp — who was working as a cloud lead for the wireless and LAN switching vendor according to his LinkedIn profile — of using his position and administrative access to the company’s AWS cloud instances and GitHub repository to exfiltrate gigabytes of data to his home network.

While a team he

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