Computer Programmer Faces 10 Years in Prison for Alleged Source Code Theft

Paul Lilly

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested a computer programmer for allegedly stealing proprietary software code from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY). Bo Zhang, the man accused of stealing the source code, worked at the bank as a contract employee assigned to work on further developing a specific portion of the Government-Wide Accounting and Reporting Program (GWA), software which is owned by the Department of Treasury to track government spending.

"As today’s case demonstrates, our cyber infrastructure is vulnerable not only to cybercriminals and hackers, but also alleged thieves like Bo Zhang who used his position as a contract employee to steal government intellectual property. Fighting cyber crime is one of the top priorities of this office and we will aggressively pursue anyone who puts our computer security at risk," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement .

According to the complaint. Zhang admitted to copying the GWA source code onto an FRBNY-owned external hard drive, and then connected the external HDD to his private office computer, his home computer, and his laptop. He used the code in connection with a private business he ran training individuals in computer programming. FBI Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk said his intentions were "immaterial."

"Stealing it and copying it threatened the security of vitally important source code," Fedarcyk said.

If convicted, Zhang, 32 years old, faces a maximum term of 10 years in prison, a maximum term of three years of supervised release, and a fine of whichever is greatest: $250,000, twice the pecuniary gain derived from the offense, or twice the gross pecuniary loss to the victims.

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