Chinese "spy" steals NASA laptop. No secrets on hard drive. Only porn

Graham Cluley

NASA laptopIn March, a Chinese research scientist, suspected of spying on NASA, was pulled off a plane by the FBI as it prepared to take off back to his home country.

But when investigators examined a NASA laptop in Bo Jiang’s possession they found no evidence of confidential data stolen from the administration. Instead, they found pirated movies and pornography.

Doesn’t everyone know to encrypt their hard drives by now?

31-year-old Jiang, who was barred from working as a contractor at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, late last year and was fired from his job in early 2013 at the National Institute of Aerospace, was amongst engineering staff labelled a security risk by Republican congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia.

In March, an arrest warrant was raised by the FBI to arrest Jiang, as part of an investigation in to “conspiracies and substantive violations of the Arms Export Control Act.” And on Saturday March 16th, was apprehended as he boarded a flight from Dulles to Beijing, on what wa said to be a “one-way ticket”.

Wolf believed that Jiang might be carrying sensitive information about NASA’s “high-tech imaging technology” with him, according to Ars Technica, but it seems that whatever Jiang was planning for the computer’s contents was unlikely to improve anyone’s eyesight…

According to a court filing today, Jiang will plead guilty to a misdemeanor for violating agency computer security rules.

Jiang claims that he is innocent, and that Wolf is targeting him and other Chinese engineers for political purposes. Nonetheless, he probably shouldn’t have been in the possession of an official NASA laptop, especially if he wasn’t planning to return to the United States.

As it is, this particular citizen of Red China has been left with a red face, and potential legal trouble.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

One Reply to “Chinese "spy" steals NASA laptop. No secrets on hard drive. Only porn”

  1. How convienient that you forgot to mention that Bo was fired under pressure from Wolf, so what Bo claims is correct. And strange you didn't mention that the government in fact lost the case because no secret material was found. Of course, a Chinese national working in any US engineering sector MUST be a spy right? (roll eyes).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Never miss a thing. Sign up for the free GCHQ newsletter from Graham Cluley.
GET EMAIL UPDATES