Ex-Yandex worker tried selling the stolen search engine source code for just $40,000

Dmitriy Korobov, a former employee of Russia’s Internet giant Yandex was allegedly involved in stealing the source code for the service and then tried to sell it on the black market to finance his own startup. A Russian court has found Korobov guilty and handed down a suspended sentence of two years in jail after being accused of illegal possession and distribution of commercial secrets.

According to reports from Russian newspaper Kommersant, Korobov downloaded a piece of software named Arcadia, which included critical information about the working of Yandex’s search engine. He attempted to sell it to an electronics retailer called NIX, where a friend of his allegedly worked. He also checked the darknet in search of potential buyers.

Korobov had planned to sell that information for $25,000 (£16,700) and 250,000 rubles (£2,330), but Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested him when he came to a meeting with a potential buyer.

According to local industry experts, it’s not likely that Yandex’s direct rivals like Google or Rambler, another Russian Internet company, would be interested in the source code, reports Ars Technica.

Aleksey Lukatskiy, an Internet security analyst at Cisco, said “The market is small, and it would’ve been easy to single out the thief.” However, the algorithms, could have been utilized for advanced search engine optimisation purposes.

The country’s antitrust authority responded after Yandex search engine complained. Kommersant’s sources said that Yandex estimated the value of the code and algorithms at “billions of rubles,” or north of £10 million. At court, a Yandex representative said that the software in question “is a key part of our company, it was related directly to Yandex’s search engine, which is the main source of the company’s income.”

“Our management took this incident very seriously,” she added.

Compared to Google’s 35.2 percent in November, Yandex is the most popular search engine in Russia, where its market share in the same month reached 57.2 percent. The company has been trying to expand to the Turkish search market over the past few years, where it had a 7 percent share as of October.

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