A former IBM developer has pleaded guilty to charges of economic espionage for China. The developer has also accepted that he was stealing trade secrets pertaining to a particular type of file system that is known as a clustered file system, which is sold by IBM to its global customers.

As per the US justice department, the beneficiary of the steal was “the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China”, as per the US Justice department. The culprit Xu Jiaqiang got himself captured, when he also attempted to tried to sell secret IBM source code to undercover FBI agents posing as tech investors. The inormation sppears to be pretty accurate as his LinkedIn page shows him to have worked at IBM as a file system developer in the past.

Which makes things a bit confusing. Was Xu doing all this on China’s directions? Or, did he sell the clustered file system to the NHFPC simply for the money involved. The fact that he was selling other software to other folks certainly seems to imply that but, that could be simply Xu making some money on the sly.

Xu is set to be sentenced on the 13th of October. A Chinese national, he has been in the US since a substantial while and even studies computer science at the University of Delware. Meanwhile, he could well be looking at the deep end of a substantial prison sentence since US laws are pretty severe on that account.

In 2014, 5 Chinese hackers were similarly charged for attempting to break into U.S. nuclear and solar energy firms. And only last year, three Chinese were charged with hacking US law firms. So yup, Chinese nationals do seem to have a knack for getting into these sort of troubles with the local authorities.

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