Tuesday, February 9th 2021

Ex-Intel Employee Reportedly Stole Confidential Xeon Files, Company Files a Lawsuit

Intel has reportedly caught an ex-employee stealing confidential company files for the Xeon processor lineup. Dr. Varun Gupta, who left Intel last year to join Microsoft as Principal for Strategic Planning in Cloud and AI, has reportedly walked away with over 3900 files of confidential information. The stolen files, contain information about Intel's Xeon processors, pricing data, corporate strategies, and Intel's manufacturing capabilities of the chips. Dr. Gupta is being sued by Intel for 75,000 USD and liability to not use confidential Intel information again. The security forensics team at Intel has discovered that Dr. Gupta downloaded almost 4000 files on multiple USB drives, however, Dr. Gupta is denying these claims. We are waiting to hear more information about the situation as it evolves.
Source: Blocks and FIles
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16 Comments on Ex-Intel Employee Reportedly Stole Confidential Xeon Files, Company Files a Lawsuit

#1
DeathtoGnomes
Ohhh, even more Intel Drama! :p

The lawsuit for $75k seems fishy, so a few things come to mind that intel is doing or not doing.
1. blame the Doc for someone else's sneaky actions.
2. prove the Doc actually has possession of those files.
3. play the drama queen role better.
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#2
Durvelle27
DeathtoGnomesOhhh, even more Intel Drama! :p

The lawsuit for $75 seems fishy, so a few things come to mind that intel is doing or not doing.
1. blame the Doc for someone else's sneaky actions.
2. prove the Doc actually has possession of those files.
3. play the drama queen role better.
$75,000
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#3
1d10t
Funny, Intel sued its former employee with a price of one Xeon?
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#4
Caring1
It might have been the Docs work but the intellectual property of Intel, that could explain the low figure he is being sued for.
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#5
Vayra86
In other news, we've had snow this weekend.

What's next, we're going to report how many napkins were taken from the cafeteria at AMD? I can get behind that CDPR ransomware headline, but this one seems desperate :D Was Intel looking for its daily headline again? :D
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#6
Wirko
1d10tFunny, Intel sued its former employee with a price of one Xeon?
Truth be said, for $75k you can buy a kilowatt or two worth of Xeons.
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#7
xorbe
In the cpu world, year old data is nearly useless. Whatever is in his head is far more valuable than $75K. That's what this is really about.
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#9
TheUn4seen
xorbeIn the cpu world, year old data is nearly useless. Whatever is in his head is far more valuable than $75K. That's what this is really about.
They can sue him for millions, but millions of dollars is not even pocket change for a huge corporation and collecting this money would, in itself, cost a lot.
The thing is, he is now finished, no company is going to hire him, ever. Having a name connected to IP theft turns a person into a hot potato. Any company to hire someone like him would automatically risk being suspected of profiting from illegally obtained information, and no single employee is worth this kind of trouble.
It's like with people who tried to sell Coca-Cola secrets to Pepsi. Pepsi promptly contacted Coca-Cola and the FBI.
Trade secret theft is, of course, a thing, but not on the level of one guy copying some files to a flash drive. My wife accessed a single file with a financial report of a certain big company and she was politely asked to step into the security office even before she left the building. It was a false alarm, as it was a part of the audit she was conducting, but you would have to be insane to think you can just copy thousands of files without anyone noticing.
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#10
Caring1
TheUn4seenThey can sue him for millions, but millions of dollars is not even pocket change for a huge corporation and collecting this money would, in itself, cost a lot.
The thing is, he is now finished, no company is going to hire him, ever. Having a name connected to IP theft turns a person into a hot potato. Any company to hire someone like him would automatically risk being suspected of profiting from illegally obtained information, and no single employee is worth this kind of trouble.
It's like with people who tried to sell Coca-Cola secrets to Pepsi. Pepsi promptly contacted Coca-Cola and the FBI.
Trade secret theft is, of course, a thing, but not on the level of one guy copying some files to a flash drive. My wife accessed a single file with a financial report of a certain big company and she was politely asked to step into the security office even before she left the building. It was a false alarm, as it was a part of the audit she was conducting, but you would have to be insane to think you can just copy thousands of files without anyone noticing.
Nah, it's not the first time an employee has tried to take "their" work with them only to be told it's the IP of the former company.
In the end, the knowledge remains in his head and he is free to rethink it for any future employee.
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#11
mechtech
Reminds me of when I went to bathroom one day and left my PC unlocked for 2 minutes and my 'buddy' sent out a few emails from my account.

fun times.
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#12
chaosmassive
4000 confidential files and sued for 75k ?
that is like 19$ per confidential files. That sounds a deal to me.
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#13
TheUn4seen
Caring1Nah, it's not the first time an employee has tried to take "their" work with them only to be told it's the IP of the former company.
In the end, the knowledge remains in his head and he is free to rethink it for any future employee.
That's why most NDAs forbid working in the same or competing fields for a set amount of time after terminating employment. For example, I couldn't work as an ultrasound transceiver ASIC designer for five years after leaving one of my first serious jobs. I knew a lot of proprietary information, which would give me, or my next employer in the same field, an unfair advantage.
But that's not really the same situation, Dr. Varun Gupta allegedly stole financial, strategic and process related information. We don't know if this information was even related to his work or taken with the intent of selling to a third party.
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#14
Wirko
TheUn4seenWe don't know if this information was even related to his work or taken with the intent of selling to a third party.
That's an important bit of information that we don't have. Maybe he had access to those documents, maybe he could have copied the most valuable bits on two or three napkins ... and maybe not. It's also unclear what the "liability to not use confidential Intel information again" means.

It's important to note though that he didn't go to AMD or IBM or some Arm server designer. He went to the other half of Wintel. With some exaggeration, given the description of documents he stole, it could be said that he was sent to sell Xeons to them.
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#15
Caring1
TheUn4seenThat's why most NDAs forbid working in the same or competing fields for a set amount of time after terminating employment. For example, I couldn't work as an ultrasound transceiver ASIC designer for five years after leaving one of my first serious jobs. I knew a lot of proprietary information, which would give me, or my next employer in the same field, an unfair advantage.
But that's not really the same situation, Dr. Varun Gupta allegedly stole financial, strategic and process related information. We don't know if this information was even related to his work or taken with the intent of selling to a third party.
That type of caveat post employment would not have any legal standing unless they paid your salary for that period of exemption, effectively meaning you are still employed by them during that time.
Once you have left their employ you are free to work wherever you want.
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#16
TheUn4seen
Caring1That type of caveat post employment would not have any legal standing unless they paid your salary for that period of exemption, effectively meaning you are still employed by them during that time.
Once you have left their employ you are free to work wherever you want.
it was a legally binding contract, connected with a fair severance package. I wasn't anyone important, I just knew a proprietary secret or two, as most engineers do. The wording, as I recall it, was that I can't use any information or insight I gained when employed if employed at any company in the same or competing fields. Doesn't sound like it forbids work for competition, but in fact it does, as it would be extremely hard (and expensive) to defend against any accusation of this kind and even harder to work effectively with this kind of weight above the head, so I wouldn't even risk working for competition.
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