On January 18, 2018, a former software developer for IBM Corp. was sentenced to five years in prison after he had pleaded guilty of theft of a trade secret and economic espionage. As part of his work for IBM, Xu Jiaquiang had access to proprietary source code which facilitates faster computer performance by coordinating work among multiple servers. Despite IBM’s precautions in place to protect the secrecy of the code, including a firewall and express authorization required for any employee to obtain access, Xu stole and used portions of the code as part of an attempt to sell the code to undercover FBI agents.
Xu pleaded guilty to the charges on May 19, 2017. The Department of Justice’s press release from that same day provides further details regarding the circumstances of the FBI’s investigation and the allegations against Xu. That press release is publicly available here.