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back to article 'Code theft trader' denied bail

The man accused of stealing proprietary computer code from Societe General was refused bail last week because the court feared he was a flight risk. Samarth Agrawal was a trader at Societe General. He was caught allegedly copying code which ran the bank's high-frequency trading systems. 26-year-old Agrawal was arrested on …

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Anonymous Coward

Bit much

Knowing how to copy and paste makes you a flight risk? How?

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Happy

@Iron

He is Indian, case in USA.

Figure the rest out....

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Anonymous Coward

due to start work at another firm ?

`Samarth Agrawal was a trader at Societe General. He was caught allegedly copying code which ran the bank's high-frequency trading systems .. Agrawal was due to start work at another firm on Monday but was arrested before he could start'

So he was only `caught' when he tried to move job. I wonder what really happened, another Terry Childs case I guess. I wonder why the FBI isn't as quick to incarcerate those responsible for the sub-prime fraud and the global economic meltdown.

I would guess that there was nothing unique about the trading algorithms, what made the system work was the response time. Something a London firm exploited by moving their system next door to the main LSE systems. A milli-second here, a milli-second there would add up to a sizable sum. A relevant question to ask is why-and-how he had access to the source code.

As all us techies would know, once the application is compiled all the end user has access to is an executable and a set of DLL files. Why a trader would need access to the source code is curious. What would the source be even doing on the same system is even more curious.

"AGRAWAL placed portions of the Unit A Code into Microsoft Word documents, and, on Saturday, June 13, 2009, he printed out the hundreds of pages of that Code contained in those documents from his office at the Financial Institution. AGRAWAL was captured by surveillance cameras while putting what appeared to be printouts of the Code into a backpack"

http://newyork.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel10/nyfo041910c.htm

Aw, go on go on go on .. :)

I don't believe it !

http://securitythreat.info/online-security/second-banker-accused-of-stealing-high-frequency-trading-code/

http://dealbreaker.com/2010/04/accused-soc-gen-high-frequency-thief-was-headed-to-tower-research/

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Compiled code?

I believe you may be overestimating the banking system. You assume that an entire bank's trading enterprise is being run on some big swish bespoke application (written in C# or Java, no doubt). But it's equally likely to be based around a bandy set of glorified Excel Spreadsheet Macros, tied together with some VBA forms, that, it appears, aren't even locked down with a proper password.

The recent evidence concerning the aptitude of banks, rather argues that the "bandy bunch of VBA macros", is the more likely of the two scenarios. This is the same bank that employed Jérôme Kerviel, remember.

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FAIL

WTS Clue to AC and Daniel 1

Well done AC and Daniel 1 for commenting on something about which you clearly don't have a clue. A high frequency trader is most likely someone who is both a statistician and a coder. The code is both what calculates the statistics that decides what to trade and submits it to the code that makes the ultra-fast trade on the exchange. This code is almost certainly written in a fast language like C++, and contains some very proprietary information that is core to the trading operation working.

Of course, looking at the story, if the guy was about to start a job today, then it seems to be that he isn't really a flight risk; so I suspect the bail was actually denied to prevent him from starting that new job. Probably, knowing the nefarious way the legal system works, at the request of SocGen.

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WTF?

¿you can not be serious?

> Well done AC and Daniel 1 for commenting on something about which you clearly don't have a clue. A high frequency trader is most likely someone who is both a statistician and a coder ..

Where does it say he wrote some of the code and what coder in his right mind copies the source into a Word doc and prints it out ????

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Silver badge
FAIL

Are you really that daft?

The FBI only gets called in when the bank or trading firm finds out or suspects that the person was trying to steal the code.

This isn't an uncommon thing since the code is worth a lot of money because it theoretically makes the bank a lot of money.

There was a case where former employees of left a certain Chicago firm to start their own trading company. They were hiring a developer from NY who also happened to have gotten caught trying to sneak out code by offloading it to a server in Germany.

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Linux

Ah but you forgot Java...

Yes, you can write low latency trading apps and strategies in Java. ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

bandy bunch of VBA macros"

> The recent evidence concerning the aptitude of banks, rather argues that the "bandy bunch of VBA macros", is the more likely of the two scenarios. This is the same bank that employed Jérôme Kerviel, remember.

I do know a `leading global consulting firm' that keeps all the info in Powerpoint docs and uses a bunch of VB macros. The rest is a bunch of shared drives on a bog standard standard Win2000/2010 network that's not much different from what I used in Uni a decade ago. Makes me wonder where their innovation is coming from.

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Alert

Doh

It's gambling FFS how much computing power does the average poker player have.

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Gambling...?

"""It's gambling FFS how much computing power does the average poker player have."""

Turns out, when you're trying to make near-instant decisions based on as much information as you can integrate into a model, you might need slightly more compute-power than someone that merely has to memorize a table of percentages (So far as I can tell, that's what the 'math' of poker comes down to.)

Also you seem to assume that all gambling is equal - Surely a poker player needs more computation than a keno player, so why can't a 'market gambler' need more computer than a poker player?

Plus, the market is generally subtly biased towards the huge firms, who are the sorts that would run these 'gambling' high speed trading programs. That means that they have pretty good odds of coming out ahead, so calling it 'just gambling' instead of some sort of application of statistics for profit, is a bit absurd.

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Silver badge

Gambling... !

Yes Gambling, but the "huge firms" are the house.

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FAIL

Surely you jest???

I had to read that FBI press release twice, and, still checked to make sure I was not being re-directed to The Onion!

Just the thought of this guy pasting tens of thousands of lines of code to a WORD document, then printing it out causes a little twitch in my left eyelid. I cannot believe that security is SO good there that he could not have walked in with a thumb drive and simply dumped the data to IT.

Besides that, how are they going to get this code back into the machine so it can be compiled? OCR? I doubt it. While the science has made great strides forwards in the past decade or so, this is not a case here 95% accuracy is acceptable. Hand Typing? Probably, but, again, they would likely end up spending as much in tracking down bugs caused by typographic errors as they would in simply writing the code from scratch.

It just causes me to shake my head in disbelief, and, start that search for the BIG clown-hammer again.

Pleasant Dreams

Dave Mundt

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USB ports are probably disabled.

OCR can perform well with e.g. bar codes.

This could be about avoiding systems that detect attempts to move data in a straightforward but forbidden way.

Then again, why is high frequency trading legal?

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Flight risk

Once he got caught, I'd guess the chances of him starting a job today was vanishingly small - so the flight risk is entirely real. Jérôme Kerviel was placed under exactly the same sort of flight-risk ban. He was a computer genius, too, according to his managers.

As for your 'clue', you can keep your 'clue', and I'll offer you a cheap, second rate sense of humour as a substitute. The whole business is so irrevocably grubby, that the only rational response is to laugh at it.

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Thumb Down

Why?

were the feds only called in when they spotted this coder printing out code?

Why were they not called when the banks were selling bad money wrapped up as debt vehicles across the economic world?

Oh yeah I forgot, that's just doing business.

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FAIL

@Agrawal

Next time, do a "man gpg" before you pilfer code.

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IT Angle

'Computer genius' or institutional failure?

If Jerome Kerviel's managers called him a 'computer genius' that means the Peter Principle applies to them. I wonder what they would have called him if the bank was still using quill pens and parchement to record trades.

The guy worked in the back-office for several years, moved to the front-office and used his back-office knowledge and acquaintances (and years old passwords) to circumvent the controls.

As someone who has been a subcontractor and still is a banking vic^h^h^hclient I'm less than impressed by the IT skills of the SoGen. Cue the whines "'we are not an IT company. We are a BANK' (which is why we subcontract to the lowest bidder and the cheapest SOP)".

This is a bank that uses your DOB as a credit card security measure FFS.

I'll remain AC thanks.

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Headmaster

computer

"I wonder what they would have called him if the bank was still using quill pens and parchement to record trades."

... they would have called him a computer genius. The word "computer" itself comes from the days of quill pens when all advanced mathematics was done by humans whose profession was called ... wait for it ..."computer".

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