Monday, November 20, 2017
Business

U.S. worker outsourced his own job to China, report says

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It's a worst-case scenario for most employees: There's someone in China who can do your job quickly, efficiently and for about one-fifth of your salary, and your boss absolutely loves his work.

But one U.S. software developer turned this nightmare on its head and actually benefited from outsourcing, a report says. That's because, unbeknownst to his bosses, he hired a Chinese software developer to do his job, allowing him to take home impeccable performance reviews while actually spending the day watching cat videos and shopping on eBay.

According to Andrew Valentine, who works on the Verizon Risk Team investigating data breaches, the employee, whom Valentine calls "Bob," had pulled off the stunt for some time, allowing him to relax and earn a good salary while someone in China did his job for him.

Valentine was hired to investigate when the company, a Verizon client, saw that someone from Shenyang, China, was logging into its computer network during every workday. The breach was traced to Bob's virtual private network, or VPN, but he had to be innocent, the victim of some kind of breach, the company figured. He was a quiet family man, "someone you wouldn't look at twice in an elevator," Valentine writes. And Bob was sitting there, working at his desk, every day. But when Valentine's staff looked more closely at Bob's computer, they ultimately found the smoking gun.

Bob had PDFs of hundreds of invoices from a third-party contractor in Shenyang for developer services. Bob had been paying the contractor $50,000 a year, while he himself made hundreds of thousands of dollars.

While the developer was working 9 to 5, Bob surfed the Web. At 9, he'd roll into the office and surf Reddit, watching cat videos. At 11:30, he'd grab some lunch. After lunch, it was time for eBay for about an hour, and then Bob migrated to Facebook. At 4:30, he'd email management, telling them what he had "done" during the day, and at 5, he'd go home.

"Evidence even suggested he had the same scam going across multiple companies in the area. All told, it looked like he earned several hundred thousand dollars a year and only had to pay the Chinese consulting firm about fifty grand annually," Valentine writes.

Verizon spokeswoman Janet Brumfield confirmed the story.

Valentine said it would be easy for other companies to ensure their employees aren't outsourcing their own jobs to China.

"Organizations need to routinely and aggressively monitor their security logs," Valentine said. "This could have been prevented if the organization had simply bothered to look."

Less than 1 percent of data breaches are discovered by looking into security logs, he said, but 86 percent of the time, information about breaches can be discovered in those logs.

Suffice it to say that Bob is no longer working for the company. It's possible that he is missed, though. His performance reviews were impeccable, and his company considered him the best developer in the building.

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