HP press conference: Inventory of gory details, Hurd "clean," Dunn steps down

HP press conference: Inventory of gory details, Hurd "clean," Dunn steps down

Summary: I just got done listening to and recording HP's press conference regarding the news that has come to light in recent weeks -- more specifically, the fact that HP engaged in multiple questionable practices in an effort to uncover the source of leaks from its board room meetings.  News.

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TOPICS: Hewlett-Packard
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I just got done listening to and recording HP's press conference regarding the news that has come to light in recent weeks -- more specifically, the fact that HP engaged in multiple questionable practices in an effort to uncover the source of leaks from its board room meetings.  News.com's coverage of the event is here. My colleague Dan Farber has coverage as well. Using the player above, you can listen to the entire press conference by streaming it or downloading it.  If you are already subscribed to ZDNet's IT Matters series of podcasts, it will turn up automatically on your system, your MP3 player, or both The press conference principally involved two speakers -- HP CEO Mark Hurd and Mike Holston, an attorney with Morgan Lewis, the law firm that was retained by Hurd in the earlier days of the investigation and now, the law firm that represents HP in its dealing with state and federal authorities on this particular matter.

As Hurd began the conference, he made it clear that he still did not have all the facts, and also pointed out that they may never have all of them. Later in the conference, he pointed out that part of the problem in getting all the facts had to do with the fact that they were dealing with an outside investigative firm.  That firm was identified as Security Outsourcing Solutions (aka: SOS) and it was also pointed out during the conference that SOS outsourced some of the work it was doing to another outfit known as Active Research Group.

Hurd seemed incredibly contrite during his presentation (far more so than Patricia Dunn, the now former HP chairwoman, ever did) and, on several occasions reminded the attendees and listeners that the practices used to uncover certain information (in the course of the investigation) were very uncharacteristic of the sort of integrity that HP's management wants the company to be known for by both its customers and employees. While he didn't condone the techniques, Hurd did say that the investigation was justified given the fact that the leaks were damaging to the company and that the practice of leaking information to the press violated company policies.  Hurd said that investigating the leaks was an "appropriate course of action" but characterized the techniques as "isolated incidents of impropriety" and as "having no place in HP."

Hurd looked to clear his own name, saying he never approved of the tracing technology that was embedded into the e-mails sent to CNET News.com's Dawn Kawamoto.  HP investigators hoped that Kawamoto would forward the e-mail to her source and that the tracing technology might lead them to whoever was responsible for the leaks. Hurd apparently approved the content of the e-mail, a detail that was offered later in the conference by Holston.

Effectively immediately, Hurd had accepted Patricia Dunn's resignation from what appears to be the board of directors entirely. A different move from the one originally planned where she would step down as chairwoman in January but remain on the board as director.  Apparently replacing her, as an independent director, is Richard Hackborn.

Before handing the microphone to Holston, Hurd said he was taking full accountablity for the matter from this point forward. 

Holston then went into the four primary techniques involved in the investigation. Namely

  • The use of pretexting to obtain phone and fax records
  • The use of social security numbers in the course of pretexting
  • The sending of emails with tracers
  • Physical surveillance
Holston noted that investigators, in the course of physical surveillance, had even engaged in a bit of dumpster diving -- looking through one female reporter's (probably Kawamoto's) trash.  In all, Holston said the investigation targeted two current HP employees, seven current or former members of the board of directors, and nine journalists.

Topic: Hewlett-Packard

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  • They know they are stuck now

    Poor HP. Not that I feel bad for them - I mean they violated the privacy of their own board and of innocent reporters - but you just kind of have to. after trying to talk their way out of this ordeal for a week, now they are starting to count their losses as Dunn steps down and Hurd admits awareness. I'm curious to see what will happen over the next several months. But until then here's a great pre-press conference blog on both of them. http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=104
    bayny
  • HP -- True Culture of Rogue

    Dunn cannot plead ignorance. HP is a leader in IT Security, and pretexting and viral tracking are not only illegal (state & federal), contrary to HP policy -- they could destroy the HP brand.

    This is not similar to Sony's takeover of their customer PC with root kits. This is like Perrier poisoning it's own water -- a move that pretty much removed this product from most retail stores overnight. Who would risk being poisoned just to drink the expensive French mineral water with so many other choices for good water.

    HP has sold many security software and hardware products, and the company itself has tight security policy -- a policy that includes educating all of its managers on privacy and secuirity laws. Identity theft is the fastest growing white collar crime and it destroys lives and threatens our economy and society in general. IT-vendor-born virus campaigns (like HP's and Sony's) threaten the all IT companies because it chills consumers into fearing that all equipment and software are loaded with spyware.

    HP might very well be finished. I would have given them a huge chance if they had cleaned house. Instead they protect the perpetrators, make excuses and defend their actions. There are many ways to track and stop leaks without violating the law or people's privacy.

    Between Fiorina and Dunn, HP's board of directors must be seen as guilty. Unless ALL board members are removed immediately (not when convenient), America's strongest IT brand should be boycotted out of existance.

    You can never trust a lier. The only thing you can rely on is that they will lie again. Over and over and over. HP must be cleaned or retired now. IT managers should suspend and cancel all orders with HP and HP resellers.
    author20@...
    • Finished ... right .....

      IT Managers and resellers want to make a living. So do they honest, hard working employees of HP who had nothing to do with the actions of the board or upper management.

      SO, you propose a boycott of HP to punish the innocent (employees, resellers, and II Managers) whose very EXISTENCE relies on HPs development, manufacture and sale of the highest quality servers, clients, imaging devices and storage systems in the industry. And let's not forget the HP software which is responsible for keeping mission critical apps running not just in commercial enterprises, but education and government (INCLUDING HOMELAND SECURITY!!)

      So you propose boycotting this company, punishing tens of thousands of innocent employees, HUNDREDS of thousands of innocent customers, and in fact, putting our nation at risk by cutting off a supplier of essential technology to our Defense Department and Intelligence agencies.

      Who do you work for... Al Quaida ??

      BTW, you should learn to spell simple English words. When you call a "liar" a lier" it makes you appear to lack a basic education, and is damaging to your credibility.
      JackPastor
      • Why HP Might be "Dunn" -- For Good

        HP is a traitor. Anybody who excuses this horror is a sympathizer to traitors. People who buy from rogue companies give financial support facism -- just like Al Quaida. HP employees know this and I wonder if HP employees are dumping HP stock as I type.

        And HP jobs are not as important as our civil rights, right of a free press and integrity of IT products. When a vendor violates laws, ethics, then when it is caught -- lies about it -- the market has no choice but to sanction.
        Hard.

        I don't buy products from Sony, Mitsubishi or Apple because they have no respect for our rights or the U.S. Constitution.

        I care about HP and think it was a critical company for America's economy. But HP has been risking the security and privacy of Americans for years, and now it must pay the price. If somebody from HP sent me a laptop free of charge, I really would think twice about putting my confidential data on it.

        I used to work for an HP reseller, and we successfully bid and won a chance to place the Virtual Vault inside a company that is foundational for our banking system and economy. We spent a lot of time gaining the trust of this company, passing on the propaganda that HP fed us.

        After the deal was almost closed, their demo of the product revealed that it did not work. What's more, there was evidence that HP had never tested the technology. Not even once! We couldn't believe it, but the security software division confirmed that it had never been tested. At least, that is what we were told. We lost the deal and HP's credibility was severely damaged. HP didn't even bother to give us excuses. On the eve of 2000, I remember spending Christmas and New Year in an HP customer data center. We could not update the firewall because HP didn't work out the licensing serial numbers with the vendor. It had years to prepare. HP support went on a vacation. I and their customer were waiting for their firewall to fail as 2000 approached. 2000 came and we were happy that nothing failed. But HP's attitude was amazingly indifferent, it was as if they didn't care about the consequences of embarassing itself and the prospective customer who exposed the failure. Nobody was fired.

        I have worked in both consulting and sales of security technology, and during my career, I exposed problems that might have compromised our national security. From companies that were very popular, and widely deployed. My clients called me a hero, but I was just doing my job. I have never seen the type of arrogance that is now being expressed by HP and it's defensive employees.

        Security and privacy are funny things, once they have been compromised, you can't get it back. Like trust. For Hurt to say he got a critical email but "did not read it" and attended a meeting, but "did not hear the critical part (paraphrasing)" is not believable.

        Until we see HP remove all possible persons involved with this unprecedented crime, I recommend that IT directors and consumers delay or cancel their orders. Silicon Valley arrogance is also at work at Apple, who attacked blogs instead of interviewing their own leaker employees.

        HP had a long standing relationship with SOS, a firm that criminally violated the rights of the press, the privacy of employees, families of employees and probably all phone contacts of those parties. Hundreds or even thousands of Americaans privacy have been permanently compromised.

        Where were you when Fiorina was enriching herself at the expense of other HP and Compaq employees, stock holders and suppliers?

        Just like Author Anderson employees are forever branded as untrustworthy, HP cannot be trusted any more than Richard Nixon. Congress should review any contracts and possibly award them to other firms.

        I say anybody who purchases products from HP is risking not only their own pesonal security, but that of anybody they email (attachments know no limits folks). And I think Hurd is lying -- test his voice against a stress analysis program and see for yourself.
        author20@...
        • I wouls stronlgy urge you to seek professional help

          I am not being facetious. Your writing clearly appears that of at least a mildly paranoiac individual.. possibly bordering on delusional.

          Obviously, you have had negative experiences with HP in the past, which cause you to have ill feelings toward the entire organization.

          If you boycott every company which shows disdain for our constitution, you will eventually end up buying nothing but vegetables and handicrafts from the Amish ... Wait, no ... count them out. They also have a fair amount of disdain for the constitution.

          I hope you are good at gardening and using hand tools....
          JackPastor
          • Low blows -- lose debates

            Your own posts are far more damaging than any flame I might send back in response to your attempt to ignight a flame war. When you go off point, ignore critical challenges and start spewing personal attacks, you lose a debate. You just threw in the white towel, Jack.

            Jack, Do you know, or have you considered the consequences of a worse-case senario for a tracking virus contaminating a computer used in national security?

            If you did, you would not suggest that anybody calling for boycotts of HP is "paranoiac individual.. possibly bordering on delusional.."

            With each post, you expose a lack of insight into IT security.

            Would you care to tell us about you think a worse-case senario would be in the HP tracker virus contaminated a high security PC network? Or is it your goal to get Americans play dumb, and to cover our eyes, ears and mouth -- like Ann Coulter?
            author20@...
          • I don't claim to be an expert in computer security

            I do know what a virus is. Based on what has been revealed in the press, this is probably not one. Unless I have detailed, irrefutable facts, I will refrain from expressing anything more than an educated opinion.

            As has been stated dozens of times in the press, tracking mechanisms are and have been common practice in counter espionage. What Hewlett Packard (or its agents) used in their email was not a virus by any modern definition.

            The worst-case scenario would be that imbeciles who operate personal computers without any malware protection would likely eventually expose their address book to investigators under contract to HP. Reasonably astute users would notice an unauthorized outbound event, and likely have the offending message quarantined with no ill effect.

            I certainly have no wish for Americans to play dumb, not do I share your infatuation with Ann Coulter.

            However, without intimate knowledge of the mechanisms involved in this particular email-tracing code, I am not about go off off on an alarmist rampage, declare "the sky is falling" and attempt to do irreparable harm to the livelihoods of tens of thousands hard working innocent employees and their CHILDREN !!!

            If it your intent to use boycotting as a means of financial manipulation to deprive the children of HP's workforce of the advantages they deserve as American citizens, you are no better than a pedophile in my opinion. For you to spew the word "traitor" at anyone is a case of the "pot calling the kettle black."

            You are, in my opinion, not worthy of debate. Vitriol does not replace logic, and creating overblown scenarios of intrigue based on PURE speculation is irresponsible. This is doubly true if anyone were to take you seriously, and refrain from buying HP's high-quality products because they bought into your delusional rantings.
            JackPastor
          • Emotionalism, Vitriol, Misspellings, Hypocrisy, Distortion

            Your idea of a worse-case senario is laughable and you seem to be intentionally minimizing the potential problems of ANY tracking software placed on a machine without the user's knowledge.

            The problem with people like you is -- you try to argue with others when you don't know what you are talking about. And you minimize the importance of security and privacy. You can always replace an HP, but you can't recover privacy if it is compromised. And it is very difficult to function when your identity is stolen. And you are apparently either invested in HP or you believe in socialistic bail-outs of companies that are mis-managed.

            I know HP products, and almost everything they make is offered by competitors. Competition and discriminating markets make HP a better company, not emotionally driven communist-leaning phonies who believe that HP's "little children" are more important than Dells or -- for that matter Compaq's. Remember them? They were fired when your favorite CEO -- Fiorina -- cut them off for quick cash. By the way, she trashed the company.

            You are also unable to read -- apparently. I suggested a situation where the user's anti-virus was not able to catch it. 95% of the malware is being spread by people who you would characterize as "Reasonably astute"...I bet your PC is infected right now. That might explain the insane posts coming out of it.

            Listen and learn. A worse-case senario would infect a mission-critical PC, perhaps a power plant or a national defense application. If it created a system failure, then you have failure to alert population or a Three Mile Island situation or worse.

            In your posts, I read emotionalism, vitriol, deep seeded hyypocrisy and distortions of facts. Misspellings too. All over the place. Is this ethical, Jack? Accusing others of what you practice constantly? There is no "speculation" here. HP put tracking code inside of an email attachment. If an enemy of our nation got access to the reporting of such tracking code, it could expose things that are secret. It could cause failures in mission-critical applications.

            Also, let's see if you can follow the question this time -- I suggested a situation where the user's anti-virus was not able to catch it. 95% of the malware is being spread by people who you would characterize as "Reasonably astute"...

            So -- in your opinion, we are to wait until the damage is done, then hope that it doesn't affect our individual families, right? In other words, stick your head in the sand and hope it only hurts the guy next door.

            In IT Security, you don't take chances. And I really was serious when I said that if I got a free HP computer -- I would hesitate using it. Trust is important to me and if more consumers were as discriminating as I, ALL computers would be much more secure and much better.

            Again, it is now your cue. You can either: 1)acknowledge that you have been distroyed in this debate 2)call names and attempt to assasinate character 3)run home to your mama who dresses you and get your daily breast feeding 4)think about a topic and do your homework before responding in an emotional, personal way.

            I would recommend #4 because if you attack my character again, I will continue to tear your posts apart and expose the cowardly, two-bit board bully who would rather slander a person, suggest that you are "too good" to debate valid issues and take a trouncing like a diginified person.

            HP was horribly wrong, and they admit it. You are wrong, but I doubt you have ever admitted it. I don't see any evidence of humility anywhere on ZDnet. Quick with the personal attacks. That is a sign of a super-arrogant.
            author20@...
      • HP Defenders Come Out Weak -- Just like Hurd

        Jack -- perhaps this post was not made by you?

        You typed "lok" instead of "look" in the following post:

        http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-9584-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=24671&messageID=465781

        It has your name on it, and there is no refuting of the post.

        Will you now claim that it was an identity thief posting this horroble spelling error in order to undermine your credibility and make you look uneducated?

        No identity thief necessary. You destroy your own credibility by your pro-HP posts, and when you elevate HP's welfare over that of our nation's national security and civil rights. That seems to be consistent in all your HP posts. And you seem to support Fiorina, who hurt many HP employees and the company's printer, software and computer divisions.

        Honestly, I don't think spelling errors damage credibility of online posts. Nor do you. I think you are just lacking in moral credibility. I do think your hypocritical attack on a solid post compounds the credibility already lacking in your posts on this board.

        But more than that, your pro-HP post attempts to get readers to ignore the substace of an important point, by using an old Nazi propaganda tactic -- ridicule and distraction from the critical points. Covered in an attitude of sarcasm and hyper-critical frivolity.

        Ann Coulter uses similar tactics to attack the patriotic Jersey Girls and others who refused to take a payoff and demanded a full investigation. She failed to deal with any of the substantive issues raised by the advocates of the commission, she only defended the gang who was attempting to cover up. It is Coulter who is unpatriotic. It is the HP loyalists who put a private company over our nation's security and privacy rights.

        HP employees are not all innocent. I found them to be silent robots, and I found management to be indifferent stone walls. HP operates like the government in many ways. I think they are one of the most arrogant companies in IT.

        If there are spelling errors -- please forgive me. Poly-anna, the human spell checker will probably go over my post shortly, after he washes the egg off his face.
        author20@...
        • You are getting scary

          There is a big difference between inaccurate typing and the inability to spell single syllable words in what I assume is your native language.

          Among Nazis, Anne Coulter, HP "robots" and the government think I am going to have to cease any further discourse with you. I'm sure that if you took the aluminum foil hat off for awhile, my thoughts would directly penetrate your mind anyway.....
          JackPastor
          • Surrender Accepted

            You were asked about a worse case senario -- a tracking virus could do to our national security.

            You then continue the convoluted personal attacks and put-downs, fleeing from the question at hand.

            Instead of addressing the issue, you suggest that I am "scary" and that I can't spell single syllable words. You have officially turned your back and walked away from an opportunity to challenge my point. In a debate of issues, the person that does this loses. This is not a spelling bee. Nor is it the Peewee Herman show.

            And the thing is, I want HP to survive, and thrive, but I don't believe it will happen without strong consumer sanctions. That is the difference between you and I. You believe that licking the feet of rogue corporate management is a good thing. I don't. If consumers were tougher on Ford years ago during the flip over scandals, Ford might have been able to survive. Now, there might not be any future for Ford.

            Loyal customers nd patriots are not boot-lickers, and thoughtful persons don't pick at piddles or compare spelling skills when they are soundly defeated in a debate.
            author20@...
      • JackPastor Loses, Then Calls Names

        Jack -- you don't need to be a computer security expert to think about the potential problems of a tracking virus. "Common use?" is no justification, Sony found that out. You are evading and avoiding admission that HP did something that could hurt and kill millions. Including your family.

        Your words indicate that your pride has been brused, you are a philosophical loser and you probably work for HP.

        "If it your intent to use boycotting as a means of financial manipulation to deprive the children of HP's workforce of the advantages they deserve as American citizens, you are no better than a xxxxxxxx in my opinion."

        ==========================================
        Boycotting is shutting off the distribution of inferior products or products by a rogue company (like Enron). Consumers can purchase from other companies who have employees who have chilren. To suggest that sending a message to HP deprives children of food is to suggest that Dell and other US manufacturers don't have families or children. Your logic is not there. Now, it is your cue to retreat.
        author20@...
    • Patty trained in Investigative Reporting; no devotee of privacy

      We might assume that Dunn's entire carrier has been based on using her journalism knowledge from UC Berkeley for wrong doing. Contrary to to the emphasis in the WSJ article on Monday where Dunn's lawyer says it makes

      "no sense at all to think she'd knowingly participate in anything criminal. The irony of Patties situation is that she's a great devotee of privacy"

      we must now think that all of her accomplishments have been the result of criminal activity.

      In particular, Dunn very possibly used investigative reporting techniques to get dirt on business executives, that dirt later being used to advance her career, get a promotion whatever. She still sits on the Barclays Global Investors as a director. She needs to be out of there as well. Of course she remains inocent

      Frank L. Mighetto CCP
      mighetto
  • Every scandal needs a scapegoat...

    Dunn forced out by the real cronies at HP for doing her job is typical crisis politics. No talk of accountability for the board members who leaked HP info. though. Ya gotta love it.
    BeGoneFool
    • Every scandal needs a scapegoat...

      It would benefit many if you would take the advice of your byline. She managed a group of people who may have broken the law and invaded the privacy of many people. The leak was uncovered and the board member is gone. He didn't break the law by leaking info, he broke HP's policy, not the same thing at all.
      percolator5591
      • The Voice of Reason !!

        Thanks you for netting that out so succinctly. Many people have not taken time to just state what are facts and what just happens to make them mad.

        The difference between breaking a law and behaving unethically has been lost in these posts...likewise laws vs. Corporate Policies.

        It is understandable that laws were meant to be interpreted, and they WILL, by members of the legal profession. Until then, I still believe in the presumption of innocence which is one of the few pillars of our Constitution left unmolested (at least for the average American citizen)

        Ethics, on the other hand, are left to be debated and are subject to each individual's moral compass. That being said, it should be kept in perspective that these represent PERSONAL OPINIONS only.

        Nobody on this board (or elsewhere in the Media) has the right to act as Prosecutor, Judge and Jury.
        JackPastor
      • Ahh ...The Voice of Reason

        Thanks you for netting that out so succinctly. Many people have not taken time to just state what are facts and what just happens to make them mad.

        The difference between breaking a law and behaving unethically has been lost in these posts...likewise laws vs. Corporate Policies.

        It is understandable that laws were meant to be interpreted, and they WILL, by members of the legal profession. Until then, I still believe in the presumption of innocence which is one of the few pillars of our Constitution left unmolested (at least for the average American citizen)

        Ethics, on the other hand, are left to be debated and are subject to each individual's moral compass. That being said, it should be kept in perspective that these represent PERSONAL OPINIONS only.

        Nobody on this board (or elsewhere in the Media) has the right to act as Prosecutor, Judge and Jury.
        JackPastor
  • Dunn Knows What Pretexting is -- ID Theft!

    To suggest that her investigative background would prevent her from understanding that pretending to be somebody else to gain access to confidential data is rediculous.

    As an executive officer in a major corporation, and as a manager of an IT firm, HR typically requires that all managers take classes in privacy law, securty policy, sex, race, age and disability discrimination law and other areas to prevent these types of problems.

    As an investigator, or a reporter -- she would be aware of privacy and security laws so that law firms and publisher clients would avoid liability. HP would not hire an idiot.

    HP -- does -- however -- hire stooges who would post messages on this board that would confuse and distort the situation. The fellow who is slobbering how we should not sanction this criminality on behalf of the "little children" is probably an agent of HP or a stock holder.

    HP has tremendous potential, but if consumers continue to allow them to get off -- you can bet they will fall into the same pit that took out Tandy and Compaq. Crummy management seeks to win by cutting corners, propaganda, sneeky practices, cheating and control-freak behavior. This is what destroyed Tandy and Compaq (Compaq would have died without Fiorina).

    I refuse to accept the notion that HP needs to be given a break. If they get off easy on this, it gives a green light to anybody with a pair of aligator clips the right to tap your phone, access your phone and banking records, violate the privacy of all your contacts and more...

    Dunn must go. Hurd must go. The board must go. The PI must be jailed and shuttered like Anderson Consulting. And the slobbering whimps that want to allow HP to get off must be silenced. The law has a purpose. Without it, no employee of any company will be as creative and productive. Can't do that when you feel like somebody is looking over your shoulder.

    Leaks can be stopped by lie detector testing, non-compete clauses, compartmentalized project management, and strategic shifting of personnel so that nobody knows too much at any one time.

    The appologists and fan boys need to get a life and stop attempting to assasinating characters as a way of debating. Be warned, if the person I am talking about comes to your blog -- he will call all people who defeat him names. No class.
    author20@...
  • author20@...

    I would no more enter into a "debate" with this poster than accept a challenge to a kickboxing match with a quadriplegic. End of story.

    I do, however, suggest that we all keep open minds, and not attempt to circumvent your country's constitution and act as prosecutor, judge and juror.

    Justice will (or may not) prevail. I am as jealous of the accumulated power and wealth of Hurd, Dunn and Cie. as anyone. Sometimes, you need to accept your own impotence and go about feeding your family. Atrempting to fantasize about "taking them down" thinkng the masses will be inspired by paranoic rants on a blog is pretty pathetic, IMHO.

    Karl Marx had a pretty good run, though ...
    JackPastor