Skip to main content

We Already Know How This Low-Budget Sergey Aleynikov Knockoff Ends

Sometimes you can't afford a Goldman Sachs-level software heist.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
Not quite Goldman.

Not quite Goldman.

Just before Easter weekend, FBI agents made the first moves in what loyal fans of former Goldman programmer Sergey Aleynikov's multi-trial saga will recognize as a familiar story: Boy takes code, FBI arrests boy, endless legal mishaps ensue. Except this version doesn't quite have the star power and gravitas of the last:

Dmitry Sazonov, 44, who worked for Susquehanna International Group for 13 years as a software engineer, was arrested in the lobby of Susquehanna’s New York offices on Wednesday by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the criminal complaint, Sazonov tried to steal source code linked to an updated trading platform Susquehanna has been developing for years to generate exchange and market orders. Sazonov started his effort to steal the proprietary trading code in February, the complaint says, after learning his supervisor had resigned.

Instead of the esteemed Goldman Sachs we get Susquehanna, heretofore known best for making all its employees play poker. Instead of grappling with code that prosecutors once warned could be used to “manipulate markets in unfair ways” if it fell into the wrong hands, we get some lines from a “trading platform Susquehanna has been developing for years to generate exchange and market orders.” Instead of Sergey Aleynikov we get Dmitry Sazonov.

Whatever the surface differences, we know where this goes from here. Sazonov will be indicted and convicted to years in prison for his alleged crimes. A couple years later he'll win an appeal on the grounds that the stuff he took wasn't actually literally tangible in the sense that you can't throw it at someone's head. Soon afterward the cruel fates and/or state prosecutors will decide they're not done ruining Sazonov's life and put him back through the legal ringer in a case that will nearly be derailed by accusations of sandwich tampering amongst jurors but eventually will deliver a guilty verdict. A judge will subsequently dismiss that verdict before another appeals reinstates it, at which point Susquehanna will have begun giving away gratis the stuff that Sazonov was originally accused of illegally pilfering.

It's a tale as old as time.

Feds Arrest Former Susquehanna International Group Engineer For Theft Of Trading Code [Forbes]


Sergey Aleynikov Is Dancing Again

One thing that I may have mentioned here is that, before I was lured to the blogging industry by the outrageous lucre on offer, I worked at this little establishment called Goldman Sachs. One thing that I probably haven't told you, but that I've mentioned to a few friends and co-workers, is that due to some frankly inexplicable confusion, the time between my telling people "I am leaving to go work for Dealbreaker" and my being escorted out of the building by active-duty Navy SEALS was somewhat longer than you might expect (viz. several nanoseconds). One thing that I've never told anybody, so let's keep it between us, is that I made good use of the delay to download certain files to a flash drive. I won't discuss all the details, since I'm using some of those files to set up my own high-frequency insider trading fund, but I will mention that with the right codes the voice recorders in the GS elevators can be accessed remotely.* One reason I never told anyone about this before is that Goldman takes it badly when people take stuff with them on the way out, and has a tendency to react by having them imprisoned for the better part of a decade. After today, though, it looks like I'm good to go:

Sergey Aleynikov Came Thisclose To Spending The Next Eight Years In Jail

One of my favorite recent acts of journalism is the Journal's amazing series about how everything you could possibly do is a federal crime, which is both a true fact with serious policy implications and also an important thing for you to remember if you want to stay out of federal prison, which I do; you may disagree but you are wrong. Here's a pro tip though that you will not (yet) find in the Journal series: there is a decent chance that reading Dealbreaker is a federal crime where you are. The reason for that is that there is a federal statute that says that if (1) there is a computer and (2) someone tells you not to do a thing on it and (3) you do that thing on that computer, then (4) PRISON! And if you work in finance then (1) yes, (2) maybe?,* (3) yes, and (4) no but it could happen. An important qualifier to that is: as of yesterday, if you're in California, feel free to read Dealbreaker from your work computer. Hell, go nuts, check Facebook. That's what a Federal appellate court ruled yesterday, finding against the government, who were prosecuting a guy named David Nosal for violating his employer's computer use policy. Here's how the court characterized what the government wanted: