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Two former Ferrari engineers accused of stealing trade secrets have been convicted of industrial espionage.

Angelo Santini and Mauro Iacconi were last week sentenced by an Italian court to jail terms of nine and 16 months respectively over charges of stealing confidential engineering data from Ferrari and using it to design cars for motor racing rivals Toyota. Both intend to appeal.

Sensitive data stolen from Ferrari - including engineering documents, test data and other undisclosed documents – was allegedly used to develop the 2002 and 2003 edition of Toyota’s car. Iacconi, a wind tunnel engineer who worked at Ferrari between 1986 and 2000 before moving to Toyota, said the data in question was dated and was of no value in the design of Toyota’s car, Autosport.com reports..

Security firms were quick to highlight the case as an example of the dangers of uncontrolled use of removable storage devices in facilitating data theft.

“This prosecution highlights the seriousness of the ‘insider threat’. Disgruntled employees still find it all too easy to take company secrets off the network and onto portable storage devices such as CDs and USB sticks,” said Matt Fisher, VP of Centennial Software. “You don’t have to work in Formula One for your secrets to be valuable to the competition. With corporate IP the fuel that keeps business running, all companies are vulnerable to damage from data leaks,” he added. ®

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