My latest book, A Hacker’s Mind, is filled with stories about the rich and powerful hacking systems, but it was hard to find stories of the hacking by the less powerful. Here’s one I just found. An article on how layoffs at big companies work inadvertently suggests an employee hack to avoid being fired:
…software performs a statistical analysis during terminations to see if certain groups are adversely affected, said such reviews can uncover other problems. On a list of layoff candidates, a company might find it is about to fire inadvertently an employee who previously opened a complaint against a manager—a move that could be seen as retaliation, she said.
So if you’re at a large company and there are rumors of layoffs, go to HR and initiate a complaint against a manager. It’ll protect you from being laid off.
Posted on April 28, 2023 at 3:15 PM •
The story is an old one, but the tech gives it a bunch of new twists:
Gemma Brett, a 27-year-old designer from west London, had only been working at Madbird for two weeks when she spotted something strange. Curious about what her commute would be like when the pandemic was over, she searched for the company’s office address. The result looked nothing like the videos on Madbird’s website of a sleek workspace buzzing with creative-types. Instead, Google Street View showed an upmarket block of flats in London’s Kensington.
Using online reverse image searches they dug deeper. They found that almost all the work Madbird claimed as its own had been stolen from elsewhere on the internet—and that some of the colleagues they’d been messaging online didn’t exist.
At least six of the most senior employees profiled by Madbird were fake. Their identities stitched together using photos stolen from random corners of the internet and made-up names. They included Madbird’s co-founder, Dave Stanfield—despite him having a LinkedIn profile and Ali referring to him constantly. Some of the duped staff had even received emails from him.
Read the whole sad story. What’s amazing is how shallow all the fakery was, and how quickly it all unraveled once people started digging. But until there’s suspicion enough to dig, we take all of these things at face value. And in COVID times, there’s no face-to-face anything.
Posted on February 24, 2022 at 6:13 AM •
Interesting story of an old-school remote-deposit capture fraud scam, wrapped up in a fake employment scam.
Posted on June 10, 2019 at 6:18 AM •
Data & Society just published a report entitled “Workplace Monitoring & Surveillance“:
This explainer highlights four broad trends in employee monitoring and surveillance technologies:
- Prediction and flagging tools that aim to predict characteristics or behaviors of employees or that are designed to identify or deter perceived rule-breaking or fraud. Touted as useful management tools, they can augment biased and discriminatory practices in workplace evaluations and segment workforces into risk categories based on patterns of behavior.
- Biometric and health data of workers collected through tools like wearables, fitness tracking apps, and biometric timekeeping systems as a part of employer- provided health care programs, workplace wellness, and digital tracking work shifts tools. Tracking non-work-related activities and information, such as health data, may challenge the boundaries of worker privacy, open avenues for discrimination, and raise questions about consent and workers’ ability to opt out of tracking.
- Remote monitoring and time-tracking used to manage workers and measure performance remotely. Companies may use these tools to decentralize and lower costs by hiring independent contractors, while still being able to exert control over them like traditional employees with the aid of remote monitoring tools. More advanced time-tracking can generate itemized records of on-the-job activities, which can be used to facilitate wage theft or allow employers to trim what counts as paid work time.
- Gamification and algorithmic management of work activities through continuous data collection. Technology can take on management functions, such as sending workers automated “nudges” or adjusting performance benchmarks based on a worker’s real-time progress, while gamification renders work activities into competitive, game-like dynamics driven by performance metrics. However, these practices can create punitive work environments that place pressures on workers to meet demanding and shifting efficiency benchmarks.
In a blog post about this report, Cory Doctorow mentioned “the adoption curve for oppressive technology, which goes, ‘refugee, immigrant, prisoner, mental patient, children, welfare recipient, blue collar worker, white collar worker.'” I don’t agree with the ordering, but the sentiment is correct. These technologies are generally used first against people with diminished rights: prisoners, children, the mentally ill, and soldiers.
Posted on March 12, 2019 at 6:38 AM •
The Wired headline sums it up nicely—”Facebook Hires Up Three of Its Biggest Privacy Critics“:
I know these people. They’re ethical, and they’re on the right side. I hope they continue to do their good work from inside Facebook.
Posted on February 4, 2019 at 11:07 AM •
I’m sure it pays less than the industry average, and the stakes are much higher than the average. But if you want to be a Director of Information Security that makes a difference, Human Rights Watch is hiring.
Posted on May 18, 2017 at 5:48 PM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.