Monday, January 21, 2013

truth stranger than fiction

I considered using a title such as “outsmarting the man” or “taking advantage”.

(little background

This true story involves a high tech software job and networking. Being involved in these areas during my engineering career I could understand and relate to what had happened. One acronym that is key to the story is “VPN” which stands for a Virtual Private Network. I have used VPN’s and they are common tools for mobile workers. Using encryption techniques a VPN creates a private network over a public network (internet).

Ok, hopefully I didn’t scare any non-technical readers away.  Now on to the story.

A well paid software developer outsourced his own job to a contractor in China. The irony here is the employee not the employer initiated the outsourcing. I’ll summarize and leave the story link at the end.

The Verizon Business security services risk team was contacted by one of their customers to help them investigate an anomaly they discovered in their network equipment logs. The Verizon customer was seeing a daily VPN log-in from China. The log information tracked the VPN credentials to a certain software developer within the company who had been issued a VPN for occasional remote work. They noticed the Chinese log-in was active while the employee was not working remote but visibly at his desk.

The next step to investigate was analysing the employee’s computer memory. There they found a surprising smoking gun. The found hundreds of invoices from a Chinese contractor in the employee’s computer.

This developer was spending about $50,000 to have his assignments done for him in China while he made a good six-figure salary. They then checked his web activities and piece together a picture of his typical day. It included facebook, ebay and cat videos.

One additional kicker to the story - the developer had outstanding performance reviews and was considered the best developer in the building. I’m guessing he was also the go-to guy for good cat videos too.

At a basic level he was a highly paid dishonest cheat which is not unknown in executive circles. Do you view him as a shrewd operator that sought a good deal? Because he violated the security of the company’s private information entrusted to him, I consider him very close to a corporate spy.

Just speculating with my limited knowledge, I say his boss didn’t have a clue about the nature and details of work required of his subordinates. Outsmarting your boss can be too easy in many situations.

Here’s a link to the story on the Verizon Security Blog.


jnoragon said...

Wow. The arrogance. I wonder why a day of social media trumped working.

lisleman said...

You are right he does appear very arrogant. Maybe he was bored with software and found the social media more fun. I suspect his ego was boosted by pulling one over on the company.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Wow. Kind of impressive, but in an appalling way.

longhollow said...

Very smart, but totally unethical, in my opinion!

Rebecca said...

I've read about that and wondered why that man didn't get more jobs to outsource. He could have made millions!

Also, I'm amazed at how corporations can outsource all day long but as soon as an employee does so, it's cheating the company?

All I say is that the work was completed.

lisleman said...

From what I read (follow the story link) it appears that the company's work was a type of "critical infrastructure" for the US. I don't know if that means a power/defense/? company. It sounds to me that the company would not be allowed by law to outsource. I agree that if the company was already outsourcing other work then this sounds fair. I don't think that was the case. I don't know but suspect the employee broke the policies of the company. It's more than just completing the work if the company's network is compromised. I do agree that he should run his own company doing contract work for others.

lisleman said...

Thanks I'm lending that same way in my opinion but of course we don't have all the details.

lisleman said...

I agree unless the company actually outsourced similar work but it appears they were not allowed to do so. If outsourcing of similar work took place within the company then one might argue that he should be able to do too. Either way he misrepresented his work.
thanks for sharing your opinion

Bearman Cartoons said...

I don't see the problem. My mom used to outsource her bookkeeping to me.

lisleman said...

you bring up a good point. Most everyone equates outsourcing with foreign countries. thanks

unknownmami said...

It's funny. The problem is the whole giving access to secure information to an outsider.

Bill Lisleman said...

Arrogant and unethical, yes, but I still have to admire the guy's ingenuity. I wish I had thought of that tactic first :)

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