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Security In Context

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How Much is Goldman’s Code Worth?

Post by Peter McCalister December 6, 2010

The trial of a former Goldman Sachs programmer accused of stealing source code to take to a competitor has begun in somewhat of a public spectacle. The Wall Street Journal unveiled some particularly interesting details. For example, the programmer was one of the highest paid in the company with a $400,000 annual salary, but competitor Teza Technologies offered him over $1 million in total pay including a $700,000 bonus.

Greedy much?

So how does the highest paid programmer of one of the largest investment banks in the world get a nearly three-fold salary hike by a much smaller competitor? Ok, ok, he’s innocent until proven guilty, but if he is guilty, I would bet a good chunk of cash that the $1 million paycheck was the price the company was paying for Goldman’s code.

Here’s the breakdown. He was offered $300,000 in salary, $700,000 in bonus and $150,000 in profit sharing. Here’s my question to you – which portion of his pay do you think was (could be) the bribe and could the programmer have gotten more? How much is Goldman’s source code worth?

Personally I think he was drastically underpaid for the value of the code, but a clean million is plenty to motivate someone to steal data despite the actual value of the stolen property being much higher.  Unfortunately this could be construed as a case of dealing with the symptom instead of the disease.  Had a least privilege solution been instituted then he wouldn’t have had the ability to misuse privilege and accomplish the theft at any price.

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