Sunday, 20 January 2013

Outsourcing or cheating

While it looks potentially apocryphal, the story last week of 'Bob' the programmer who came up with an innovative way of doing his job has made for an interesting read.

It all started with a posting on the blog of security firm Verizon telling how a review of logs revealed a connection to China. (Shades of the Cuckoo's Egg as discussed earlier.) Bob's security credentials were being used via a virtual private network while the man himself was sitting at his desk. Since his employer was an American 'critical infrastructure company' they were worried about security, especially since the security keys for the VPN were changed regularly and the Chinese connection had been going for as long as the logs recorded (six months in this case).

Cutting to the chase; Bob had outsourced his job to a Chinese company and he had sent the security credentials over to them. Have a read of the story as also covered by The Register, The Guardian and the BBC ... and also an interesting comment piece from Steve Poole at the Guardian.

The various reader comments range from rage to admiration, with several saying he should be promoted to management. He actually had several such coding jobs and outsourced them all to his Chinese sub-contractors. Bob was seen as a model employee, people ask whether his contract of employment allowed sub-contracting (this is an issue for freelancers as well since the right to supply an alternative is one factor to distinguish employment from freelancing).

Could such a thing happen in your organisation? Would it matter if it did? And what did our enterprising coder do all day (up to the point he wrote a progress email to his employers). Apparently he spent his time online, including watching YouTube videos of cats; something which gave the Guardian the opportunity for a couple of really 'aah' kitten pics. Personally I'm still following Henri.

Bob? Oh ... he was fired.

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