Train maker's coder goes loco, choo-choo-chooses to flee to China with top-secret code – allegedly

Good luck ever finding this guy again after, dare we say, his life jumped the tracks

A software developer fled to China from America with vital train transportation system computer code, US prosecutors have alleged.

Xudong "William" Yao stole the software blueprints from his former employer, an unnamed locomotive manufacturer based in Chicago, it is claimed, flew to the Middle Kingdom, and took up a job with a Chinese biz that specializes in automotive telematics – think vehicle monitoring, tracking, and communications.

Yao was indicted by Uncle Sam in December 2017 roughly two years after he bailed out of the United States in 2015. His indictment [PDF] was unsealed by the court on Thursday this week after prosecutors agreed there was no longer a reason to keep the allegations hush-hush.

According to the indictment, Yao, 57, joined the unnamed locomotive builder in August 2014 as a software engineer and almost immediately began hoarding commercially sensitive documents. Just weeks into his employment, prosecutors say, he had already amassed a cache of 3,000 files containing trade secrets belonging to his employer, including source code for the control system software used to drive the locomotives. At the same time, he made contact with the Chinese company to negotiate a job deal.

Angry Judge

McAfee sues ship-jumping sales staff over trade secret theft allegations


Fast forward to February 2015 when, for reasons unrelated to this case, Yao was fired by the Chicago train firm. Later that month he made copies of the pilfered files, and attempted to find work with other businesses, the Feds claim. In July, we're told, Yao visited China to finalize a job deal with the aforementioned car telematics provider.

In November that year, the actual transport of the stolen documents is said to have happened when Yao, carrying nine digital copies of the train company's control system source code among other secrets, flew out from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport for the last time on his way to China, where he is believed to still be residing.

US prosecutors indicted Yao on nine counts of theft of trade secrets. Should he ever return to the United States and be arrested, he would formally be charged and tried.

The case is one of a number involving allegations of US-based developers and engineers fleeing to China while in possession or trade secrets. In March, a former Tesla engineer was sued for lifting trade secrets from the Musk-y auto outfit with the intent of taking them to a Chinese rival, and last year a trio of Micron engineers were charged with stealing confidential docs from the chipmaker on behalf of two China-based outfits. ®

Other stories you might like

  • DuckDuckGo tries to explain why its browsers won't block Microsoft ad trackers
    Meanwhile, Tails 5.0 users told to stop what they're doing over Firefox flaw

    DuckDuckGo promises privacy to users of its Android, iOS browsers, and macOS browsers – yet it allows certain data to flow from third-party websites to Microsoft-owned services.

    Security researcher Zach Edwards recently conducted an audit of DuckDuckGo's mobile browsers and found that, contrary to expectations, they do not block Meta's Workplace domain, for example, from sending information to Microsoft's Bing and LinkedIn domains. Specifically, DuckDuckGo's software didn't stop Microsoft's trackers on the Workplace page from blabbing information about the user to Bing and LinkedIn for tailored advertising purposes. Other trackers, such as Google's, are blocked.

    "I tested the DuckDuckGo so-called private browser for both iOS and Android, yet neither version blocked data transfers to Microsoft's Linkedin + Bing ads while viewing Facebook's workplace[.]com homepage," Edwards explained in a Twitter thread.

    Continue reading
  • Despite 'key' partnership with AWS, Meta taps up Microsoft Azure for AI work
    Someone got Zuck'd

    Meta’s AI business unit set up shop in Microsoft Azure this week and announced a strategic partnership it says will advance PyTorch development on the public cloud.

    The deal [PDF] will see Mark Zuckerberg’s umbrella company deploy machine-learning workloads on thousands of Nvidia GPUs running in Azure. While a win for Microsoft, the partnership calls in to question just how strong Meta’s commitment to Amazon Web Services (AWS) really is.

    Back in those long-gone days of December, Meta named AWS as its “key long-term strategic cloud provider." As part of that, Meta promised that if it bought any companies that used AWS, it would continue to support their use of Amazon's cloud, rather than force them off into its own private datacenters. The pact also included a vow to expand Meta’s consumption of Amazon’s cloud-based compute, storage, database, and security services.

    Continue reading
  • Atos pushes out HPC cloud services based on Nimbix tech
    Moore's Law got you down? Throw everything at the problem! Quantum, AI, cloud...

    IT services biz Atos has introduced a suite of cloud-based high-performance computing (HPC) services, based around technology gained from its purchase of cloud provider Nimbix last year.

    The Nimbix Supercomputing Suite is described by Atos as a set of flexible and secure HPC solutions available as a service. It includes access to HPC, AI, and quantum computing resources, according to the services company.

    In addition to the existing Nimbix HPC products, the updated portfolio includes a new federated supercomputing-as-a-service platform and a dedicated bare-metal service based on Atos BullSequana supercomputer hardware.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022