Rogue nations are increasingly able to pick up powerful scientific and engineering software from online piracy warehouses.
According to the New York Times, the software can be used in a wide range of tasks such as designing rockets or nuclear reactors, and predicting the path of a cloud of anthrax spores.
These software programs cannot legally be exported to countries such as North Korea or Iraq, but the internet provides a way round any such restrictions.
An official at the US Department of Justice said that the software is designed to model the fuel flow in a fighter jet.
Software industry experts have suggested that most of the illegal trade is carried out by Chinese companies which market the programs for a tiny price.
Software companies, already unhappy about piracy, are furious that their technology could get into the wrong hands.
The New York Times quoted one software company boss as saying: "It stinks that people can get it for nothing, but it absolutely stinks that these guys can get it for nothing."
Latest Tesla news: Tesla share price continues to fall after Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund is linked to investment in rival
SEC 'probe' takes its toll on Tesla as new research suggests that Tesla loses $6,000 on every $35,000 Model 3
RTX 280 Ti will come with 11GB of fast GDDR6 video RAM with a 352-bit memory bus offering 616Gbps
The scale of jobs lost to automation will be at least as large as those in the first three industrial revolutions
10nm Cannon Lake Core i3-8121U CPUs make a rare outing with Intel's NUC mini PC