Outsourcing your own job much more common than first thought

Verizon finds canny computer worker's business plan


RSA 2013 Computer programmers outsourcing their own jobs and pocketing the profit from salary differentials overseas is much more common than first thought.

Last month, Verizon reported that an investigation into a client had revealed that the unnamed company's star programmer, a chap dubbed Bob, had outsourced his job to a Chinese firm that charged him a third of his salary, while he spent time in the office surfing Reddit and looking at cat photos. He was only caught when his employers checked his usage logs.

"When the story went out we got a bunch of phone calls with companies asking, 'Are you talking about our situation?'" Bryan Sartin, director of investigative response on Verizon's RISK team told The Register.

"It turns out this seems to be something of a trend and lots of people are doing it. It's especially common with contract workers and freelancers who sign up for jobs and then farm out that work in parts of the world where coders are cheap."

The initial case that sparked the interest was unusual, he said, in that the person involved was a full-time employee, but there have now been many cases of freelancers shipping off their work. On a purely capitalistic front it's a great idea for the developer, but employers are less than impressed.

In the case of Bob – and other examples Verizon has found – two-factor authentication tokens and passwords were sent to offshore coders to enable them to access corporate systems. While there's little evidence that the third-party coders have exploited this for hacking profit, the danger is very real, Sartin said, and companies need to be on their guard.

"Our data shows that in 74 per cent of network intrusions, the initial access point is a remote worker's link," he said. "In these specific cases there doesn’t have seen to be a problem, but if the hacker's purpose is espionage rather than profit then they're going to keep a low profile."

The easiest way to catch these people out is to check access logs for the location of the worker, Sartin explained. If you've hired a coder in California, it's a dead giveaway if they are logging in from China. ®


Other stories you might like

  • DuckDuckGo tries to explain why its browsers won't block Microsoft ad trackers
    Meanwhile, Tails 5.0 users told to stop what they're doing over Firefox flaw

    DuckDuckGo promises privacy to users of its Android, iOS browsers, and macOS browsers – yet it allows certain data to flow from third-party websites to Microsoft-owned services.

    Security researcher Zach Edwards recently conducted an audit of DuckDuckGo's mobile browsers and found that, contrary to expectations, they do not block Meta's Workplace domain, for example, from sending information to Microsoft's Bing and LinkedIn domains. Specifically, DuckDuckGo's software didn't stop Microsoft's trackers on the Workplace page from blabbing information about the user to Bing and LinkedIn for tailored advertising purposes. Other trackers, such as Google's, are blocked.

    "I tested the DuckDuckGo so-called private browser for both iOS and Android, yet neither version blocked data transfers to Microsoft's Linkedin + Bing ads while viewing Facebook's workplace[.]com homepage," Edwards explained in a Twitter thread.

    Continue reading
  • Despite 'key' partnership with AWS, Meta taps up Microsoft Azure for AI work
    Someone got Zuck'd

    Meta’s AI business unit set up shop in Microsoft Azure this week and announced a strategic partnership it says will advance PyTorch development on the public cloud.

    The deal [PDF] will see Mark Zuckerberg’s umbrella company deploy machine-learning workloads on thousands of Nvidia GPUs running in Azure. While a win for Microsoft, the partnership calls in to question just how strong Meta’s commitment to Amazon Web Services (AWS) really is.

    Back in those long-gone days of December, Meta named AWS as its “key long-term strategic cloud provider." As part of that, Meta promised that if it bought any companies that used AWS, it would continue to support their use of Amazon's cloud, rather than force them off into its own private datacenters. The pact also included a vow to expand Meta’s consumption of Amazon’s cloud-based compute, storage, database, and security services.

    Continue reading
  • Atos pushes out HPC cloud services based on Nimbix tech
    Moore's Law got you down? Throw everything at the problem! Quantum, AI, cloud...

    IT services biz Atos has introduced a suite of cloud-based high-performance computing (HPC) services, based around technology gained from its purchase of cloud provider Nimbix last year.

    The Nimbix Supercomputing Suite is described by Atos as a set of flexible and secure HPC solutions available as a service. It includes access to HPC, AI, and quantum computing resources, according to the services company.

    In addition to the existing Nimbix HPC products, the updated portfolio includes a new federated supercomputing-as-a-service platform and a dedicated bare-metal service based on Atos BullSequana supercomputer hardware.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022