Revenge of the techies

Revenge of the techies

Summary: Stealing office supplies has never been so menacing. A new survey evidences all too well where the power can fall in enterprise IT relationships: into the hands of spiteful employees.

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Batten down the passwords!
A new survey evidences all too well where the power can fall in enterprise IT relationships: into the not always well-intentioned hands of disgruntled employees.

Or in this case, into the hands of disgruntled exiting employees. The survey, put out by Cyber-Ark Software, a Newton, Mass. based provider of enterprise account security solutions, found that 88 percent of IT administrators, if laid off tomorrow, said they would take valuable and sensitive company information with them. They'd especially target CEO passwords, customer databases, research and development plans, financial reports, merger and acquisition plans and even the company's list of privileged passwords.

Only 12 percent said they'd take the high road on their way out, leaving the "office supplies," so to speak, intact.

I'd suspect at this point that most of you are of two minds: The vast majority of you are embarrassed that your profession is ever lumped in with this group, who are the kinds of unsavory characters that have business leaders questioning whether they need in-house IT departments at all, given what trouble they can be.

But the other portion--and hopefully, this is very few of you--might kinda understand where this type of spiteful behavior fits in. How do I know you're out there? When I approached this topic for the first time last month on the heels of the virtual commandeering of the San Francisco municipal computer network by an unhappy former network engineer, in the Techie Hall of Shame, I received more than one comment and email which said, and I quote, that "a real coder wouldn't have been caught." The suggestion is that the failure of those in the Techie Hall of Shame was not, say, abusing their power but not doing it well enough that nobody caught them.

And although comments like these were a minute part of the responses, the fact that they were out there at all suggests that this type of entitlement and potentially rampant abuse of IT power, is alive and well out there.

How about you? Do studies like this simply get on your nerves or does it worry you that you're being associated with criminally-minded techies?

Topics: CXO, Banking, Enterprise Software

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43 comments
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  • Think of it this way.

    You fired me, i had planned on living my life as it were, i might have a house and kids to take care of, you have essentially ruined me.

    Now it might not seem right to destroy and take information, but that company is doing what they have to do to survive, so its only obligatory that we do the same. Laws of nature type thing.

    Truthfully its up to the company to ensure they terminate with dignity when you are talking about positions of power.

    I personally think logic bombs in software are different. They represent preplanning, months in advance. If you know it might be coming, its your job to find another job. Logic bombs ruin you as a programmer.

    Truthfully, any retalitory actions only hurt the employee in the long run and really should not be used.

    I dont disagree with taking information, People take roledexs all the time, how different is taking a database from grabing the contents of your filing cabinet?

    Regardless of the above, the more respectible a company is in firing employees, the better off the company and the terminated employees are. Compensation packages really do remove much of the sting of being fired.
    Been_Done_Before
    • Not really

      "You fired me, i had planned on living my life as it were, i might have a house and kids to take care of, you have essentially ruined me."

      Not really, this article was just talking about a layoff, which means you didn't do anything wrong in their eyes and can be re-hired. I'd assume they're talking about mostly leaving in good terms.

      "Now it might not seem right to destroy and take information, but that company is doing what they have to do to survive, so its only obligatory that we do the same. Laws of nature type thing."

      Oh, please. You're not going to stop surviving just because you left the company. Just work for somebody else. This glorified vision that you're going to stop surviving and need to resort to the "laws of nature" if you get laid off is just silly.

      Personally, I'd just go work for a competitor. I wouldn't see myself as being "ruined."

      Life goes on; you can find a job elsewhere. Spite and revenge are unnecessary. Sometimes the best revenge is helping a competitor knock down the company you left because you bought valuable skills to them :).

      "Regardless of the above, the more respectible a company is in firing employees, the better off the company and the terminated employees are. Compensation packages really do remove much of the sting of being fired."

      Agreed, although it is rather sad to see that people still consider spite and revenge at all when leaving. It's not a healthy way of handling problems. I'd much rather focus on building myself and a competitor up than destroying my former employer.
      CobraA1
      • you got it right dont get mad, get revenge

        There nothing better to shove down the throat of a former employer the fact that you new boss . his DIRECT competitor is getting better and better because of you.


        former job the company i was working for lost about 55% of all the contact i was working with .... not because i told them to leave ...... Because when they learn that i was fired they said they would not keep on doing business with them..... a pure joy.

        in life dont get mad get revenge .... dont cause trouble on the long run cause mayhem
        Quebec-french
        • Better still..

          When you're able to start up your own business after being laid off and you're doing better than they are. My former employer went out of business back in 2001... I'm still around... Gotta love it..!
          Wolfie2K3
  • RE: Revenge of the techies

    It's unfortunate that so many people are so insecure that they cannot take the high road in these situations... that personal pride, integrity and honor have so little value.

    Humans can overcome the hurt, rejection, etc... those who cannot are barely more than animals.

    Flame away... it's cold in my office.
    s_southern
    • Those you take revenge

      A layoff is one thing, a fire after years of service just to save costs is another thing entirely.

      There have been a lot of people financially ruined just so some company can save costs. If you ruin someone, your superior just might ruin you. A lack of concern for others tends to stretch from top to bottom.

      Besides think of what your customers will think of your actions. If you will screw your employees, you certainly can't be trusted for any reason.
      shanedr
    • Wise man's Observation

      A wise man is reputed to have once said:

      Morality and law are merely conventions adopted out of mutual fear.

      Law is invented by the powerful to control the masses...Morality is invented by the masses to control the powerful.

      How often has it been demonstrated that, INDEED, "pride, integrity and honor have so little value".
      jpenajr@...
  • It worries me

    I see it as a symptom of a "don't get caught" mentality that pervades our culture and ultimately leads to less freedom for everyone. Whether people are willing to admit it or not, trust and freedom are directly proportional.
    John L. Ries
    • Agreed (nt)

      nt = no text
      CobraA1
    • It is rather sad NT

      NT
      pmfjoe
  • If you get laid off why do something that will ruin your future career?

    No one will knowingly hire a thief. :\

    People are foolish.
    T1Oracle
    • Totally Correct (nt)

      (nt)
      TedKraan
    • You don't understand depression

      You assume they will be young enough to recover. A lot of companies won't hire someone if they are within ten years of Social Security.

      Try proving age discrimination for hiring.
      shanedr
  • Maybe do less work, but steal? No.

    It's a great opportunity to find an ever better job.
    fr0thy2
  • vengeance yes. but at what cost ?

    You want revenge so badly fine then so be it!!!

    Sign on with a rival company and beat them to a bloody pulp in business and sales! Enjoy letting your former boss know it was you! Your latest brain child that sent your former employer spiralling into bankruptcy. while you get $$$$.

    Sure you can become some biter old man living out your life in your moms basement concoct some evil code and potentially damage a company that {SCREWD YOU!!!}

    Sure you sank a multi billion dollar company possibly even killed people. What good dose that do you and your now starving family wen your in jail and $paying$ back the damages you caused for the rest of your life? some may feel they have nothing left to loose and maybe they don't.

    Honestly I'm not saying some former employers DON'T deserve it I'm not saying that at all being an eye for an eye kinda guy myself. however the world in witch we live is so much bigger than simple self destructive vengeance and giving that up to me is just as big a crime
    broke back techies
  • Consider the Source

    A vendor selling security tells you that you company is at
    risk, that your enterprise might end tomorrow, and that your
    most sensitive information will be compromised, oh, and by
    the way, they have the perfect solution....

    How much did they pay you to run this piece, or are you just
    a brainless lackey?
    igoeja@...
    • Missed the source, but...

      ...we do keep hearing about stuff like this (from a variety of sources), so I think it is legitimate for Deb to discuss it, even though the particular survey she cites may well be propaganda.
      John L. Ries
    • true, it's a biased research

      So it's probably 12 procent stealing info instead of 88 procent.

      Exclamation feeds the doubt and ads are full of lies after all.
      TedKraan
  • Sad to hear.

    It's sad to hear such a statistic. Why are we so spiteful and bent on revenge?

    Two wrongs don't make a right, and life continues after a layoff. Personally, I'd just go work for a competitor.
    CobraA1
  • Get the data BEFORE you're laid off...

    You don't have to worry so much about the lamers who try to get the data AFTER they are laid off. They probably wouldn't be able to do it anyway.

    You want to worry about the smart ones who get the data BEFORE they are laid off, just in case. These are the people who know what they are doing.

    You can't stop the second kind, but you can hope they have professional ethics. Usually people that good do, or they're good enough to really be into evil things as a full-time job. But you don't want to make them mad, either...
    scott1329