Former Goldman Programmer Sergey Aleynikov Case–Digital Illiteracy of FBI, A Duped Jury-How Goldman Played It And Is Still
Posted Aug 06 2013 7:23pm
First of all “subversion”..anyone in programming will love the sentence in this article about how it “was suspicious”. Also in this article you learn that Goldman has a one way relationship with open source code, they take but don’t ever give anything back and that’s what you do with open source code. Now I understand you may have some modules you keep but to return not even some generic improvements made to code that all banks use?
The FBI agent gets a “crash” course in what to look for…geez…thought the FBI had higher level tech folks hanging around as in something like this, you better get an agent that deal with technology involved. As I said when this occurred the size of the file would show that it’s not enough to contain enough “secret sauce” as was indicated here. This is really too bad that we have so many digital duds here who can’t investigate this case properly. Sure Sergey admitted what he did but had no clue of what kind of digital dud he was dealing with from the FBI and obviously everyone else was just as dumb and of course Goldman took full advantage to build up the “drama queen” scenario taking this way out of context.
With subversion you check code in and out and it may be configured differently at each place but the basics are the same with full on audit trails, so developers can if allowed have a module or two to work on loaded on their own computers as it has to be replicated and checked when the developer is done. Again the humor with the FBI agent with the word “subversion” is hysterical. Also worth watching if you want to see some real digital illiteracy is the PBS documentary called “The Untouchables” where you can see DOJ Manny whine and within 5 minutes of listening to him, you can pretty much determine he was in the same boat as this digital dud FBI case here.
How could the court really determine what was open source and what was proprietary code accurately? Goldman could have said anything and the judge and jury would have bought it as if you are not a coder, you can be snowed easily and take a look at the Algo Duping page if you want to learn more on that topic. I said the same thing about Snowden too, he’s a system admin and everyone talked about the case like they were chasing James Bond. Technologists don’t think and act this way, I was one of the for a while so take my word for it.
It’ worth your while to read the entire Vanity Fair article, at the link at the bottom of this post to learn more. Read some of the comments too. This again with digital duds was not handled properly and Goldman jumped on it and they have a few hundred quants that could lay out a story for a non tech FBI Agent to believe. This guy should be out of jail and the charges dropped and Goldman should be held accountable for their models that hide risk in my opinion. If you have never seen the Quants of Wall Street video documentary, watch it and see what I mean. They have done far worse with lying models and cheating code themselves. BD
A month after ace programmer Sergey Aleynikov left Goldman Sachs, he was arrested. Exactly what he’d done neither the F.B.I., which interrogated him, nor the jury, which convicted him a year later, seemed to understand. But Goldman had accused him of stealing computer code, and the 41-year-old father of three was sentenced to eight years in federal prison. Investigating Aleynikov’s case, Michael Lewis holds a second trial.
The Web site Serge had used (which has the word “subversion” in its name) as well as the location of its server (Germany) McSwain clearly found highly suspicious. He also seemed to think it significant that Serge had used a site not blocked by Goldman Sachs, even after Serge tried to explain to him that Goldman did not block any sites used by its programmers, but merely blocked its employees from porn and social-media sites and suchlike. Finally, the F.B.I. agent wanted him to admit that he had erased his “bash history”—that is, the commands he had typed into his own Goldman computer keyboard. Serge tried to explain why he had done this, but McSwain had no interest in his story. “The way he did it seemed nefarious,” the F.B.I. agent would later testify.
What Serge did not yet know was that Goldman had discovered his downloads just a few days earlier, months after he’d made the first of them. They’d called the F.B.I. in haste, just two days before, and then put their agent through what amounted to a crash course on high-frequency trading and computer programming. McSwain later conceded that he didn’t seek out independent expert advice to study the code Serge Aleynikov had taken. (“I relied on statements from Goldman employees.”) He himself had no idea of the value of the stolen code (“Representatives of Goldman told me it was worth a lot of money”) or if any of it was actually all that special (he based his belief that the code contained trade secrets on “representations made by members of Goldman Sachs”).