The case of Timothy Allen Lloyd offers a good example of how psychological stressors and triggers can play a role in malicious insider attacks. It is also the very first insider sabotage case investigated by the U.S. Secret Service.
For 11 years, Lloyd worked his way up the corporate ladder at Omega Engineering Corp., a Bridgeport, New Jersey—based manufacturer of high-tech industrial process measurement and control devices for the U.S. Navy and NASA. He started with the company as a machinist, but by 1994 he had earned the title of chief system administrator for the company’s Novell network. But Lloyd’s career was about to take a drastic turn for the worst.
Employees reported that he repeatedly elbowed, shoved, and bumped colleagues in the hallways, and that he became verbally abusive. He would be counseled on several occasions about these problems, but managers reported that he never improved his behavior. In May 1995, because of his continuing interpersonal problems, Lloyd’s supervisor, James Ferguson, informed him that he was being transferred from supervisor of Omega’s CNC Department (the manufacturing side of Omega’s plant, where machines created the thousands of products that comprised Omega’s inventory) to a position as a manufacturing engineering support specialist. Ferguson assured Lloyd that this was a lateral move. In reality, the change was a demotion. And Lloyd knew it. The loss of supervisory responsibilities and the knowledge that Courtney Walsh, a former subordinate of Lloyd’s, had taken over his position did not sit well with Lloyd.
Lloyd’s supervisors had hoped that the change of position would send Lloyd the message that his behavior and social skills had to improve. They also hoped that the job change would help spur that improvement. But it had the opposite effect on Lloyd, and his interpersonal problems with fellow workers increased in number and severity.
Lloyd underwent a performance appraisal in Feb. 1996. He received a ranking of 7 out of a possible score of 10. He received a 4% cost of living raise in salary, which was significantly lower than the annual raises he received in previous years. The intent of Lloyd’s managers was to send the signal to the troubled employee that his time left at Omega was short.
Four months after his performance appraisal, Lloyd instituted a policy to “clean up” all of the computers in Omega’s CNC Division. The “policy” forced all employees to save their work on a centralized file server and prohibited them from making their own backups. Lloyd also removed portions of computer programs that deal with safety precautions from user workstations and saved them on a central file server. Walsh protested, fearing that removing the files from user systems could cause a major system failure. Lloyd, however, continued making the changes.