Man cost Sports Direct £48,000 after hacking into their website - to try and get a job

A Derbyshire man who cost Sports Direct £48,000 in lost sales after hacking into their website did it to try and get a job, a court heard.

Monday, 21st August 2017, 12:00 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:53 pm
Jason Polyik. Photo - Derby Telegraph.

Jason Polyik also targeted a second company in a bid to show both of them how easy it was to hack into their systems. He had hoped they would then employ him to sort out the problems, Derby Crown Court heard.

The 27-year-old forced the Sports Direct website to shut down for 30 minutes after hacking into it, which was estimated to have cost the firm almost £50,000 in lost sales. And the Shirebrook-based company then had to spend another £15,000 in consultancy fees to try and fix the problems.

Joe Harvey, mitigating, said: “He had read how huge firms such as Google and Amazon paid a lot of money to people who are able to find vulnerabilities in computer systems and he thought they might offer him employment.

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The Sports Direct warehouse in Shirebrook.

“He is a talented graphic artist but no-one wanted to work with him because of his social issues. He is socially awkward and on the autism spectrum. He has honed and shaped his skills over a number of years.”

When the chief executive of the second firm Polyik targeted opened his laptop, a pop-up of The Joker from the Batman film appeared along with “sinister laughter”.

Handing him a 10-month prison term, suspended for a year, Judge Peter Cooke said: “What you did forced the temporary shut down of Sports Direct's website and it was quite determined hacking.

“As well as the money they lost through sales they had to spend a significant amount of money, some £15,000 trying to fix the problems.

The Sports Direct warehouse in Shirebrook.

“But I have heard a lot about you, how you are on the autistic spectrum and you are a vulnerable young man whose vulnerability would be exposed in a custodial setting.”

Simon Ash, prosecuting, said the offences took place between July and September last year.

He said Polyik had accessed different systems at Sports Direct where he had previously worked in the warehouse for an agency.

Mr Ash said: “As a result of what he did their website had to be shut down for 30 minutes which although it is not possible to say exactly how much the financial cost would have been, it could be estimated to be around £48,000.

“There was also a repair cost from an external company of £15,000.”

Mr Ash said the second firm whose system Polyik hacked into was forced to change its server in Montreal, Canada as a result.

He said: “The chief executive of that firm opened up his laptop one day and a notepad popped up with the Joke from the Batman film and the sound of sinister laughing.”

Mr Ash said Polyik left his email and mobile number with both firms thinking they might consider employing him as a result of how easy he had found it to hack into their systems.

But instead they contacted the police and he was arrested,

Polyik, of Central Drive, Shirebrook, pleaded guilty to a charge of unauthorised access of computer material.

Joe Harvey, mitigating, said: “He had read how huge firms such as Google and Amazon paid a lot of money to people who are able to find vulnerabilities in computer systems and he thought they might offer him employment.

“He is a talented graphic artist but no-one wanted to work with him because of his social issues. He is socially awkward and on the autism spectrum. He has honed and shaped his skills over a number of years.”

Speaking after sentencing, Detective Inspector Steve Roberts, from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit’s dedicated Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Stealing data across cyber space is as significant as physically taking a hard copy paper file from a locked cabinet.

“It is a form of theft and a serious intrusion.

“Recent high profile breaches reflect the damage such activity can do on a national scale, not forgetting the very real threat it poses to people’s privacy and the security of information.

“Online crime has no borders and evolves with the speed of technology.

“It requires specialist skills to tackle this type of offending and also depends on a collective effort from the police, industry and the public to protect against it.

“We are growing our response to cyber crime across the East Midlands and we work closely with the business community to help them better protect against this increasing crime type.

“I would like to acknowledge the affected companies in this case for reporting the breaches as soon as they were discovered.

“Their swift actions meant vital evidence was secured to bring the offender before the court and relevant protections were made within their systems to mitigate against further compromises.”