Engineer Found Guilty of Stealing Navy Secrets via Dropbox Account

Dropbox app

A jury trial found a former engineer at a Navy contractor guilty of stealing trade secrets regarding Navy projects by uploading the files to his personal Dropbox account.

The man, Jared Dylan Sparks, 35, of Ardmore, Oklahoma, worked as an electrical engineer for LBI, Inc., a company authorized to build unmanned underwater vehicles (drones) for the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research, and weather data-gathering buoys for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Sparks worked for LBI from January 2010 to December 2011, when he left for a similar position at Charles Rivers Analytics (CRA), another Navy contractor.

Sparks hides thousands of files in his Dropbox account

According to an indictment obtained by Bleeping Computer, LBI accused Sparks of uploading over 5,000 files containing information about LBI’s work on Navy contractors to his personal Dropbox account, right before he quit his job in December 2011. Some files he sent via email.

The files included data on LBI’s accounting and engineering projects, but also photographs of designs and AutoCAD and SolidWorks renderings used to build LBI’s unmanned underwater vehicles and buoys.

A timeline of the theft and the stolen files, as included in the indictment, is available below.

47. On or about October 13, 2011, at approximately 2:30 p.m. EDT, SPARKS uploaded to his Dropbox account confidential and proprietary information belonging to LBI, to wit, historical job costing information regarding LBI’s previous ship-building projects.
49. On or about November 7, 2011, at approximately 8:00 a.m. EST, SPARKS upgraded his existing Dropbox account storage capacity to increase his storage space.
50. On or about November 7, 2011, approximately between 8:07 a.m. and 3:41 p.m. EST, SPARKS uploaded to his Dropbox account numerous computer files containing confidential and proprietary information belonging to LBI, stored on his LBI assigned desktop computer, including, but not limited to, the following files:
   b. Backup (1) ofMini-AXIB Assembly.SLDASM, and associated files;
   c. Backup (1) of Spherical PV Assembly 05292009.SLDASM, and associated files;
   d. Backup (3) ofLVC Motor Assembly.SLDASM, and associated files;
   e. LDUUV-Interim Propulsion – Tail Section.SLDASM, and associated files;
   f. Backup (2) of Cylindrical Pressure Vessel End Cap, 12.75 diasldprt;
   g. 2011-08-29 LD Relay Diagram.v3.pdf.
51. On or about November 7, 2011, at approximately 5:33 p.m. EST, SPARKS uninstalled the Dropbox application from his LBJ-assigned desktop computer.
52. On or about November 8, 2011, SPARKS uploaded to his Dropbox account a file containing confidential and proprietary information belonging to LBI regarding the methodology used to test and build the battery box for the LDUUV and its content.
53. On or about November 15, 2011, SPARKS deleted approximately 5,000 files from his Dropbox account.
54. On or about November 28, 2011, at approximately 12:15 p.m. EST, Sparks sent himself an email with a subject “PIC Folder,” from his LBI email account to his personal Gmail account. The email contained LBI confidential and proprietary information, that is, a schematic of the pie controller configuration for the battery system of the LDUUV.
55. On or about December 7, 2011, SPARKS sent a file containing the LBI proprietary design of the electronic schematic for the battery charger of the LDUUV via email to an employee of Company A.
56. On or about Aprill, 2012, SPARKS deleted job costing information regarding LBI’ s LDUUV project from his Dropbox account.

Second suspect cleared of all charges

The FBI arrested Sparks in November 2016, together with a second man named Jay Williams, 45, of Griswold, Connecticut, accused of similar crimes and believed to have helped Sparks.

A search of Sparks’ home confirmed the theft and found the files on his Dropbox account.

A jury trial ensued. Williams was found not guilty. This week, a jury found Sparks guilty of 13 of the 29-count indictment filed against him.

A sentencing hearing has not been scheduled yet, but Sparks faces a maximum prison sentence of ten years for each of the 13 guilty verdicts.

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