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Getting Weird Server Hits from China? It May Not Be Hackers…

C. Custer
C. Custer
8:00 am on Jan 17, 2013


Today’s Register brings us an amusing story that also has a bit of a moral to it: although it can be easy to blame Chinese hackers for everything, sometimes the answer to your tech mystery is something a bit more simple.

When a US tech company first noticed strange activity coming from China on its servers, the IT folks figured it was likely the work of Chinese hackers using a malware exploit, even though the activity was all happening through the user account of one of the firm’s top programmers. But when they had their ISP investigate the activity, it turned out that there was actually no hacking involved. Instead, the top programmer — “Bob” — had hired a Chinese software firm and outsourced his own job so that he could spend his workdays surfing Reddit and shopping on Ebay.

This was actually a surprisingly profitable arrangement until Bob was discovered and fired. His outsourced work had won him company awards, and he was even outsourcing freelance work he took on from other firms, all for about one-fifth of his regular salary. After the freelance work, he often made more than his regular six-figure salary for doing absolutely nothing other than forwarding his work along to contractors in Shenyang.

It’s actually sort of a genius plan, except for the fact that it ended up being pretty easy to trace. Still, I imagine that Bob has moved on to a new software firm where he’s quietly doing the same exact thing, outsourcing his work to China for a fraction of his salary while he kicks his own feet up and relaxes.

So to the next foreign company that finds strange hits coming from China on its servers, don’t assume it’s hackers! Sure, it might be. But it might also be one of your own employees taking advantage of China’s deep programming talent pool to get a little bit of extra rest and relaxation.

(via The Register)

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Have Your Say
  • Mike White

    Ridiculous article, and I question the motivation of the author. As a security analyst, I can tell you, without hesitation, that the threat from Chinese hackers is real and absolutely constant. The scenario you describe is so hilariously rare that it seems like this story was written as a propaganda piece.

  • some people have no sense of humor

    Or a joke piece…?

  • http://www.techinasia.com C. Custer

    @ Mike White: Calm down Einstein, it’s a humor piece.

  • http://www.michaelleejohnson.com Michael Lee Johnson

    HAHA! This is awesome. Maybe I should outsource my 15,000km walk from Beijing to London that will be life-streamed over social media and live-streamed at various points.