Employee busted after outsourcing job, watching cat videos at work

January 17, 2013, 11:49 am Kashmir Hill, Forbes.com Yahoo!7

A software developer at Verizon who cleverly outsourced his job to China to while away time watching cat videos has been betrayed by his digital footprint.


A software developer's clever plan to outsource his job to a developer in China and to spend his work days surfing Reddit and watching cat videos was derailed thanks to the digital trail he left behind.

Verizon shares the tale on its security blog. An unnamed U.S. company using Verizon as its Internet service provider (ISP) asked for Verizon’s help in figuring out why a user based in China was establishing a VPN connection to their network on a daily basis.

They assumed it was a hacker. A digital investigation revealed that not to be the case.

The suspected hacker was connecting to the network using credentials that belonged to “Bob,” a software developer in his mid-40s that Verizon describes as an “inoffensive and quiet family man.”

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They assumed he must have some kind of malicious software on his computer enabling the hacking, so they took a forensic image of his desktop. (Yes, your employer can do that.) His daily Web browsing history told an interesting story. From the Verizon blog:

A typical ‘work day’ for Bob looked like this:

9:00 a.m. – Arrive and surf Reddit for a couple of hours. Watch cat videos
11:30 a.m. – Take lunch
1:00 p.m. – Ebay time.
2:00 – ish p.m Facebook updates – LinkedIn
4:30 p.m. – End of day update e-mail to management.

5:00 p.m. – Go home

Bob was getting a six-figure salary for that arduous workday. Further investigation of the computer’s files revealed “hundreds of .pdf invoices from a third party contractor/developer” based in, of course, China. Points for creativity, Bob!

As it turns out, Bob had simply outsourced his own job to a Chinese consulting firm. Bob spent less that one fifth of his six-figure salary for a Chinese firm to do his job for him.

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Authentication was no problem, he physically FedExed his RSA token to China so that the third-party contractor could log-in under his credentials during the workday. It would appear that he was working an average 9 to 5 work day.

Verizon notes that Bob had excellent performance reviews and was considered “the best developer in the building.”

Verizon’s report doesn’t say whether Bob got promoted to management or fired nor whether the company wound up hiring the apparently talented China-based developer.

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