Engineer faces 219 years in prison for smuggling US military chips to China

Electricfish malware is used to forge covert pathways out of infected Windows PCs.

An electrical engineer faces up to 219 years in federal prison after being found guilty of conspiring to smuggle military-grade semiconductor chips to China. 

On Tuesday, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said that Yi-Chi Shih, a part-time Los Angeles resident, attempted to secure semiconductor chips used in US military applications in order to transfer them to Chinese associates. 

The 64-year-old was subject to a six-week trial in a Los Angeles, California federal court. 

Prosecutors alleged that Shih, alongside co-defendant Kiet Ahn Mai of Pasadena, California, conspired to gain access to a sensitive system belonging to an unnamed US firm which manufactured semiconductor chips and Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMICs). 

The victim company’s PC systems were accessed fraudulently after Mai posed as a potential customer, giving Shih the opportunity to obtain custom processors. While the firm in question believed the chips would only be used in the United States, Shih transferred the products to the Chengdu GaStone Technology Company (CGTC), a Chinese firm building an MMIC manufacturing plant. 

Evidence suggested that Shih managed to “defraud the US company out of its proprietary, export-controlled items, including its design services for MMICs.”

See also: EFF asks for DOJ efforts to break Facebook encryption to be made public

US prosecutors say the victim company’s designs have been used in both commercial and…

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