Three former US government employees have been sentenced to jail time after aiming to copy, and later sell, some of their employer’s software to government agencies around the world.
To do that, they took sensitive data from their workplaces, without knowledge or permission of their superiors.
Revealed in a US Department of Justice (DoJ) announcement, Charles K. Edwards, Sonal Patel, and Murali Y. Venkata all pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit theft of government property and to defraud the United States. The trio was employed by the DHS Office of Inspector General, with Edwards as Acting Inspector General, and Patel and Venkata working in the IT department.
In a bid to recreate some of the software they used in their workplace, the three, all US citizens, apparently stole some software and databases, and shared them with software developers in India, on various occasions between 2019 and 2022.
Some of the databases they shared contained the personal data of 200,000 federal employees. Exactly what type of personal data they took remains unknown, but we know that it belonged to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) employees, as well as those employed at the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, where the three had worked previously.
Edwards was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison, Patel to 2 years of probation, while Venkata received a 4-month prison sentence. Venkata also allegedly tried to destroy the evidence, by deleting all communications with the Indian developers.
While the case is closed, what happened to the leaked data remains a mystery, as too much time may have passed since the incident, and the US government may not even try to retrieve it. Pursuing the Indian developers involved in the incident is also highly unlikely.
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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.