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Scapegoats, say IT firm staff held for hacking | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


CHENNAI: Five employees of a city-based IT firm, who were accused of data theft and ‘hacking,’ have told a city court that they were made scapegoats in a civil dispute among founders of the company, wrestling to take control of leadership. One of them claimed that he was targeted as he was part of an internal committee that recommended action against the brother of one of the co-founders of the company, who was accused of verbally abusing a staff.

Adding credence to the workers’ claims that they were harassed to settle personal scores and vendetta, Chennai police notified the press about the arrest of the staff, including two women, with their photographs last Thursday (November 16), just hours after four of them were given bail by a city court, though the arrests were made at least three weeks earlier on October 25.

The claims were made by the arrested employees of EPIK inDiFi Software Solutions Private Limited, which has recently rebranded as ezee.ai, in their bail applications before the principal sessions judge, Chennai.

There has been no clear explanation from the city police as to why the news of the arrest was informed three weeks later. “We will look into it,” said a senior police officer.

Of the five arrested, four were software engineers, Edison Ramesh (29), C Ramkumar (27), Kavya Vasanthakrishnan (29), K Karuppiah (26) and the other was the company’s Chief Human Resource Officer, Ravitha Devasenapathy (40) of Bengaluru.

According to the bail petitions, the company has three founders- Subhomoy Banerjee, who works from Australia, Rajendra Awasthi and Sushmitshri Babu, who take care of the company’s India operations. The company provides software products to banking companies using cloud computing software, which is provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS).

City police’s Cybercrime wing had registered a case based on a complaint from Karthik Vijayan, Finance Manager of the company and the co-founder, Shubomoy Banerjee was included as first accused in the FIR.

On October 9, the company received a call from one of the clients stating they are unable to access the comprehensive credit reporting (CCR) software application provided by the company. A similar complaint was made by another client too.

The company’s complaint is that Edison and Ramkumar had changed the password of eight Australian clients on the instruction and plan of Shubhomoy Banerjee after obtaining the Multi-Factor Authentication(MFA) key from Kavya, causing loss in business.

The Australian clients are TMB, Sun corp, Bank Australia, Frank Com, Au Support, Sasinfra, Novas and Sas India. The company’s allegation is that the arrested persons in connivance with Shubhomoy Banerjee were planning to open a new company, with the aim of making the Australian clients their customers.

According to a case moved by the company before the Delhi High court against the staff, the company was established in 2018, and has offices in Chennai, Bangalore, Sydney, Melbourne, and Australia through a group company and offers services to clients in India, Australia, Nepal, Mauritius and the APAC region and has assets worth 2 billion USD and daily transactions around 3 million USD.

In their bail petitions, the arrested staff stated that they were under the impression that Subhomoy Banerjee was still working as co-founder and was assigning tasks to various teams. The bail petition by Edison Ramesh stated that he was part of the Internal committee that investigated verbal abuse against an employee by the brother of one of the founders, Sushmithshri Babu.

Kavya, in her bail petition, stated that to the best of her knowledge, Shubhomoy Banerjee, who is the co-founder and former CEO of the company has not been removed from the company, but merely from the post of CEO and that she has been targeted to rope in Shubhomoy Banerjee.

What adds more credence to the power struggle angle is the anticipatory bail petition by an HR executive, Puja Agarwal, who claimed that she has no access or knowledge about software operations and that the current CEO and co-founder Rajendra Awasthi is consistently sending her WhatsApp messages to disclose about the involvement of others or she will be roped into the case.

After hearing the petitions, principal sessions judge, S Alli granted conditional bail to four of the arrested and anticipatory bail was granted to Puja Agarwal, but denied bail to Edison Ramesh.

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