Man charged over bid to damage US security database

WASHINGTON, March 10 (Reuters) - A Colorado man has been charged with trying to sabotage a U.S. security database that holds sensitive information used for screening air travelers, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.

Douglas Duchak, 46, had worked at a Transportation Security Administration operations center for five years, updating its computers with data from the Terrorist Screening Database and the U.S. Marshal’s Service Warrant Information Network.

The TSA is primarily responsible for screening passengers at U.S. airports and uses information from intelligence and law enforcement agencies to prevent people who pose a threat from boarding commercial flights.

The agency has come under new pressure to ramp up security in the wake of a failed plot in late December to blow up a U.S. commercial jetliner.

Duchak was told he would be terminated in October 2009 and about a week before his last day, he allegedly tried to load malicious code into TSA servers, according to the indictment.

The database was not compromised, according to officials.

Duchak entered a not guilty plea during a hearing in Colorado and was released on a $25,000 bond, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Colorado said.

“The tampering with a computer that is used as a tool to protect national security of the United States will not be tolerated,” James Davis, an FBI special agent, said in a statement.

If convicted of attempted intentional damage to a protected computer, Duchak could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $500,000. His lawyer was not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by John O’Callaghan)