Large Software Piracy Scheme A Threat To National Security? - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Large Software Piracy Scheme A Threat To National Security?

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WILMINGTON, Del. - Federal officials announced a nationally significant copyright infringement prosecution on Tuesday as Homeland Security brought down of one of the largest piracy schemes in our country's history. But even though arrests have been made, could there be a threat to national security?

"This is big time crime. $100 million lost revenue - illegal sales around the world." Homeland Security Director of ICE John Morton said.

The mastermind of the scheme - 36 year old Xiang Li of China. He's been arrested and pleaded guilty on Monday, but Li sold the pirated software to customers in 28 U.S. states and 60 countries, raising concerns about how that might be used.

"Included in those countries are Syria and Yemen and other concerning countries," Assistant U.S. Attorney of Delaware David Hall said.

But anxiety over national security doesn't stop there.

"There's a general threat to our ability as a country to produce sensitive technology and programs that much of our military and engineering prowess depends on. So there's a general threat to public safety from organized criminals, and there's a general threat to our ability to function as a strong nation with a strong military and a strong economic engine," Morton said.

"There's the question of whether malware or spyware is being downloaded withe software, and their issue is whether there is any defect in the software. These are being used to design aircraft and do other things where there's serious safety issues," Hall said.

One of Li's biggest buyers, a former NASA engineer who downloaded software onto a government computer. "Mr. Wedderburn downloaded it onto a NASA laptop. It was determined that NASA experienced no adverse effects from the software, and we will continue to monitor to make sure this malware, or if there is any malware, isn't going to become a part of our networks or systems," Special Agent Erik Saracino of NASA-OIG said.

This is an ongoing problem and investigation, but the Department of Homeland Security reassures citizens that they are on top of it.

"If we're going to have the most innovative industry in the world, we've got to protect it, we've got to have the full resources of law enforcement after these pirates in a relentless fashion, which is what we're going to continue to do day in and day out," Morton said.

Li will be sentenced in Delaware this coming May and faces a maximum of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

For part one of this story, click here.

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