Wednesday, July 25, 2018

More maps walking off the boat

Also in this week's C&EN, more intellectual-property theft (article by Alex Scott, emphasis mine): 
Josh Harry Isler, a 55-year-old former technical services manager for DuPont, faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 after pleading guilty to theft of fuel-enzyme-related intellectual property and making a false statement to the FBI. Isler, who lives in St. Ansgar, Iowa, admitted that in August 2013 while still a DuPont employee—but after having accepted a job from CTE Global, a competitor in the fuel enzymes business—he transferred hundreds of DuPont’s electronic files to an external device.  
Many of the files related not just to DuPont but to the firm’s customers, some of whom were also customers—or potential customers—of CTE Global. Isler later transferred some files to his new employer. Isler is waiting to learn if he must pay DuPont compensation.  
The theft of trade secrets has been a recurrent issue for DuPont in recent years. In 2017, the firm charged an employee of 27 years with stealing trade secrets relating to flexographic printing, and in 2014 a former engineer working in DuPont’s titanium dioxide business was convicted of selling trade secrets to a Chinese firm.
Stay away from the flash drives, folks, it looks like intranets are tracking the maps on the boat. 

3 comments:

  1. 1) Why do people think that no one's going to notice when they access company files, particularly when it's the core (supposedly) of your employer's business? Maybe they're all hoping that they cut back on data security the way they cut back on research, but that seems unlikely. I wonder how they figured out that their data was being sold (though that's one of the things I assume they would want to keep secret).

    2) Why does anyone think lying to the Feds is going to work out well?

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  2. I think this is just the case at big companies with sophisticated IT departments. The last place I worked at had a one-man IT department run by a merry-go-round of individuals who didn't work out, and a lot of confidential files were inadvertently available on the company intranet. We also had a merry-go-round of upper managers coming and going, so highly sensitive paper files ended up in Banker's Boxes in unsecured storage areas.

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  3. A funny thing happened at a CRO in Utah, Frontier Chemicals. They had a slightly shifty and opportunistic, not so bright fellow working for them, who was trying to help his brother in law start a CRO in India. He was not hiding this connection - in fact he even proposed collaboration between Frontier and that CRO in India, and they even made a test batch for Frontier in India (rejected by Frontier because of poor quality). So they were watching him and when he downloaded from company files procedure for making tetraphenylporphyrin, they had him arrested. The problem was, FBI in their first theft of intel property in Utah could not prove the Frontier procedure was proprietary, similar procedures are available on web for student lab assignments, so they prosecuted the guy based on HACKER offense, for unauthorized access and dissemination of company files. Later, the guy pled guilty to one count, paid fine+ court expenses (and company expenses) about 10 000 USD and left the country, giving away his Green Card. This was only due to a reasonably judge, who saw that this guy was a feeble-minded shambolic dude who compromised himself but not the company he worked for, and whom his employers and FBI wanted crucified.

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