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HP CEO Allowed 'Sting' on CNet reporter

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the ouch-that-stung dept.

145

Mark writes "The Washington Post, reporting on Hewlett-Packard's Chairman Patricia Dunn and alleged spying on other HP board members, has obtained e-mails that implicate the CEO, Mark Hurd, who approved an elaborate 'sting' operation on a CNet reporter." From the article: HP's leak investigation involved planting false documents, following HP board members and journalists, watching their homes, and obtaining calling records for hundreds of phone numbers belonging to HP directors, journalists and their spouses, according to a consultant's report and the e-mails."

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WOW (2, Funny)

BlackIcejane (1004346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161648)

I still can't belive this sort of thing happends and they got away with it. it boggles my mind in so many ways.

Re:WOW (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161720)

They probably thought," Well, if our own government can do it and get away with it, then why the hell shouldn't we do the same?"

Just following the example set by Bush and his cronies.

Re:WOW (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161810)

They probably thought," Well, if our own government can do it and get away with it, then why the hell shouldn't we do the same?"

Just following the example set by Bush and his cronies.


Nah, the government *hates* it when other people horn in on their business.

Re:WOW (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161897)

Nahh, the government isn't doing it. Your just reading too much from the liberal media trying to elect democrates to office.

PARENT IS NOT A TROLL (1, Insightful)

mclaincausey (777353) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162515)

Put your pathetic political position aside when you moderate. Parent makes a good point.

Re:PARENT IS NOT A TROLL (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16162591)

Political opinion doesn't matter. No matter who the post was referring to, bush or not, it was a message intended to provoke. "whoever and his cronies".... That fits the definition of troll as far as I'm concerned.

Re:WOW (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161723)

Well, she didn't get away with it, did they?
We are reading about it. There are Congressional hearings (which may not be criminal presecution but is an effective way to bankrupt you with legal fees) and the CA GA is investigating for criminal charges. Yeah, scott free.

Re:WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161726)

Yes, shocking. Because we all know the public holds the media in such high esteem these days.

Re:WOW (1)

Leon_Trotsky (702427) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161808)

You're kidding right? We probably only hear of about 1% of the crap that happens in the corporate s**thouses, that's what surprises me..

SHIFT+DEL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161829)

SHIFT+DEL dude...SHIFT+DEL

Re:WOW (1)

wolvesofthenight (991664) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161920)

We should attach a generator to Hewlett and Packard; I bet they are more upset than you are. This is a far cry form what David Packard wrote in The HP Way: How Bill and I Built Out Company. Actually, it is an OK book which discusses things like how they wanted to build technically superior products, not just more mass market junk like they do now.

Quite Believable ->Slap on the Wrist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16162237)

What is most believable is that Hurd, Dunn, and all the other rich/powerful people will escape justice.

If you or I did what these clowns did, then we'd be serving time in Fort Leavenworth.

Re:Quite Believable -Slap on the Wrist (2, Informative)

ccmay (116316) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162489)

What is most believable is that Hurd, Dunn, and all the other rich/powerful people will escape justice.

Jeff Skilling, Bernie Ebbers, Dennis Kozlowski, Martha Stewart, and John and Tim Rigas beg to differ with you. George Bush's Justice Department put them all behind bars, some of them for decades.

-ccm

Re:WOW (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162259)

I still can't belive this sort of thing happends and they got away with it. it boggles my mind in so many ways.

What boggles my mind is that you're currently moderated as funny, not the +1 eerie we're all feeling about this.

Companies illegally spying on people is something straight out of a cyberpunk novel or something. It scares the crap outta me, because if nobody gets into actual legal trouble over this, the next time a company does it, people will just start going "Oh, that old thing", and turn the channel.

Re:WOW (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162657)

I still can't belive this sort of thing happends and they got away with it.
They're rich Republican supporters. Which part are you having trouble with exactly?

Don't put the blame on Hurd. (3, Informative)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161654)

Fromt the article: "None of the e-mails reviewed by The Post were to or from Hurd, nor do they detail what information Hurd had when he approved the sting operation."

Just because he approved the action to sting the reporter, he didn't necessairily know what the means were.

Re:Don't put the blame on Hurd. (3, Informative)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161718)

zuh?

From TFA:

Dunn replied: "Kevin, I think this is very clever. As a matter of course anything that is going to potentially be seen outside HP should have Mark's approval as well."

On Feb. 23, Hunsaker sent an e-mail to Dunn. "FYI, I spoke to Mark a few minutes ago and he is fine with both the concept and the content."


Re:Don't put the blame on Hurd. (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161744)

Just further proof that you can't trust anything with the name "Hurd" attached to it... : p

Reporter is a dipshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16162454)

Um, I'd have to say Hurd is refering to the concept and content of the bogus ppt file and _NOT_ the methods used in the .

The leap the reporter is making is waaaay too big to be accurate.

A non-techie created a technical presentation. A CEO with a technical backgroup said the concepts and content of that presentation is good.

How the hell does that translate into "I approve the methods used to track a html email via a zero length gif." ??

Re:Don't put the blame on Hurd. (3, Insightful)

BrynM (217883) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161746)

Just because he approved the action to sting the reporter, he didn't necessairily know what the means were.
Where I come from, we call that Plausible Deniability [wikipedia.org] . It keeps our best elitists from getting their hands all grubby with the details or criminal charges. After all, repercussions are for the riff-raff.

Absolutely put the blame on Hurd. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161779)

When you are a manager, particularly an officer of the company, and you approve something like an investigation, you know it's going to be sensitive and that if it's not done properly, it's going to hurt the company.


If you don't inquire into the details of what you've approved, it's either because you are: a) foolish, or b) don't want to be accountable.


If a CEO directs something sensitive to happen, it's their responsibility to be aware of what it is and how it happens.

Re:Absolutely put the blame on Hurd. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162173)

Or

  c)trust that your managment skill that got you the position has enabled you to trust the delegation of this job to people who are competent to handdle it in a manor you see fit.

D) none of the above ????
e) profit!!

The big problem with this (and government positions as well) is that the people in charge believe they have the best pepple availible to delegate authority and responcibility too. Often this is because they do not know how to handdle it themselves. When these people embarrass the administration/CEO they have to get the advice from the next best person to see what damage was done and tactfully control it. This is usualy done by yet another person who is trusted as being the best person availible to them.

The CEO of a company isn't a skilled investigator trained in finding out who or what allowed information to be leaked somewere. They arent trained in finding out who broke into the servers or how much information they had access to. When a situation arises, they have no choice but to trust the advice and actions of someone else. They only hope they chose that person well.

Now,planting false information and identifying a mole by determining who comes up with what is nothing new. Attacking a tracker to the information isn't either. What seems to be new is that it is being done by large corperations instead of script kiddies preying on defensless little old ladies. I personaly don't see the problem here. They had what equates to industrial espionage under the guise of free press stealing vital company stratigies and releasing it to the competitors in a bid to increase viewership and therfore add revenues. This is only a little different then you hacking into my computer to find out I visit slashdot then selling that information to the highest bidder. Now I will admit that some of the stuff done to track it down might have been slimey and possibly illegal but so are some of the actions of the cops who act as druggies to get into a dealer's organizations and conduct sting operations.

Re:Don't put the blame on Hurd. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161870)

Hey! George Bush reads Slashdot!

What kind of strange ethics are those? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161928)

So if I arrange for someone to be killed, but don't specifiy the MEANS to do it, that's OK? "Hey, I didn't know HOW the guy was gonna get killed.. maybe it was going to happen real nice and proper like?."

Funny, I thought deception, fraud, and outright lying were wrong from the get-go. Now apparently the only thing that's wrong is HOW you go about deceiving, defrauding, and lying. If you do it properly, it's not wrong. Silly me.

Re:What kind of strange ethics are those? (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162033)

That's a bad example. Asking someone to kill someone is illegal weather you specify the means or not. To catch someone leaking information is not. If I walk into my boss's office and say I think someone is leaking our sensitive information, I'm gonna try to see who it is and he says ok then fine. If he says ok, but how?, then he has a potential problem.

Re:What kind of strange ethics are those? (1)

Jacked (785403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162105)

Don't be ridiculous. Arranging to have someone killed is not only "wrong," but the very act itself is illegal, regardless of how many details you know. However, if I ask a friend to get me a Mt. Dew and he goes to my neighbor, beats the crap out him to get in the house and steals it from his refrigerator, I am not responsible for any of those crimes.

Deception, fraud, and outright lying aren't always "wrong from the get-go," either. For example, if a nutcase with a machete comes to my house and asks to see my wife, I just might lie and tell him he's got the wrong address. There's nothing wrong with deceiving him.

So, while I probably agree with the sentiment behind your remarks, I feel compelled to point out that the world isn't as black & white as you might think.

Re:What kind of strange ethics are those? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16162164)

Several points people seem to be consistantly missing:

1) HP's board had a legal obligation to find the leak of financial information from the board. If they did not, they could be heavily liable under SEC rules.

2) HP engaged well known and respected investigative companies. This was not cousin Guido. These companies are legally in business and purportedly use legal methods

3) The companies the investigator used for the requests we now know as "pre-texting" are legally in business, and have been for a while. They are widely used. They take advantage of the poor security your vendors (ATT, Cingular, Verizon, etc) provide for our private data.

Given HP had a legal obligation to find and close the leak, exactly how else would you go about it? No one was volunteering to admit to being the leak, either within the board or the news agencies.

The news agencies also knew that the sensitive financial info was illegally leaked due to SEC constraints. Why shouldn't they be targeted with a sting? They are enabling the illegal behavior at the board.

The press has mis-reported this news item heavily. "HP wanted to plant spyware" was really "HP included a web link which would have reported an IP address if accessed". Just like ebay, yahoo, and every other company does.

"HP considered planting spies in newsrooms". No reference of the sources other than: anonymous sources close to the company. That could be anyone! Even Michael Dell!

Is "pre-texting" bad? Absolutely! Close that hole, AT&T, Cingular, Verizon!

Did the board mis-handle the investigation? Maybe. They did refer to legal council, who is ultimately responsible.

Was the board/Hurd aware of the intent to use pre-texting? No solid indication yet. If they were, and they were advised it was grey area of the law, then they were in bad judgement.

If they were not, then the finger should point to the investigative firm.

Again, HP *had to* find the leak, for both legal and financial reasons. If they did not, then they were vulnerable to a far worse legal situation.

So how would you go about finding the leak other than employ respected and credible investigative firms?

Given that most of the world outside of the security industry had no idea what "pre-texting" is, and how widely used it is, people need to think before they point the finger.

Myself, I'd just have demanded the entire board present phone records and calendars. Anyone who chose not to would be assumed guilty. HP's standards of business conduct are very strict. Any regular employee would have been walked out the door if there was any question of this type of leak. The legal risk from the SEC it just to high!

People should point the finger where it belongs: Your vendors and mine: AT&T, cingular, Verizon, and any other company who uses the last 4 digits of your SSN as it's secret ID.

Alan

Re:Don't put the blame on Hurd. (1)

vought (160908) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162182)

Just because he approved the action to sting the reporter, he didn't necessairily know what the means were.


God forbid an executive be responsible for actions they approved.

Re:Don't put the blame on Hurd. (1)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162541)

God forbid an executive be responsible for actions they approved.

I think though if you say "Just don't tell me HOW you plan to sting the reporter, I don't want to know", there's an implicit order to do whatever you deem necessary, legal or otherwise, just don't tell me about it. You should be held accountable for that as well.

In a few month's we'll all forget anyway, and Patricia Dunn will become Chairman again.

Re:Don't put the blame on Hurd. (1)

spurtle15 (899792) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162293)

Just because the mob boss approved the action to silence the witness, he didn't necessairily know what the means were.

Re:Don't put the blame on Hurd. (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162569)

Let's call that Enron Defense: hey, I'm the boss, I don't know anything about the details of this company, ask the interns, that's their fault.

Seriously if something needs to be approved by the CEO, that means that to do his job, the CEO should know exactly what's implied by his approval. The CEO does not approve the hiring of a new Janitor or the number of printers to buy in Alaska branch. The CEO personally approves "important" decisions. If he just sign everything his PA gives him, that makes him a moron, and he deserves the blame, 2 times.

And also, do not forget that there is also juicy golden parachute to "repair this injustice" and soothe his emotional distress.

Reversal of watergate (2, Funny)

chefmattrock (996275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161667)

So now we've got CEO's investigating reporters, and reporters investigating Executives. When will they turn their high powered invest-i-scopes back onto politicians?

Re:Reversal of watergate (1)

Osiris Ani (230116) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161759)

If you really want to carry the analogy all the way through, then it will simply require yet another reasonably high-level whistleblower (like a Deputy Chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example) to leak vital information on actionable offenses. Watergate had its Deep Throat, after all.

If this happens, though, use of "gate" as a suffix is strictly forbidden, because that's just silly.

Re:Reversal of watergate (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161791)

If this happens, though, use of "gate" as a suffix is strictly forbidden, because that's just silly.

I think they've been following that rule for a while now. Notice how there's been no "investigate" for a long time...

Re:Reversal of watergate (2, Insightful)

random coward (527722) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162059)

If this happens, though, use of "gate" as a suffix is strictly forbidden, because that's just silly.


The correct usage for -gate is only for a Republican(or sometimes conservative) scandal. HP is neither therefore -gate would not be correct.

Incidently the suffix for a Democrat(or sometimes liberal) scandal is very arcane (due to media bias against reporting and spiking of those stories), but is -aquiddick.

Re:Reversal of watergate (1)

Osiris Ani (230116) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162132)

HP is neither therefore -gate would not be correct.

Perhaps you somehow missed the part of the GP post that read, "when will they turn their high powered invest-i-scopes back onto politicians," and therefore subsequently missed the point.

Re:Reversal of watergate (1)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162262)

How about Nand-gate?

Herd It, Dunn It -gate?

Nothing beats the Microsoft monopoly scandals - what were those called? Oh yeah, bill-gates

email tracer? (1)

omb65 (957120) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161675)

According to the article, "The idea, evidently, was to induce Kawamoto to open an e-mail attachment with a "tracer" in it that would allow them to see who she forwarded it to. They hoped it would pinpoint board member Keyworth as her source, according to the documents." How is this done? Is this something spammers do?

Re:email tracer? (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161771)

sounds like a nice simple piece of malware. Probably spyware that simply reports back to the central location.

Easy (3, Informative)

wantedman (577548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161786)

If you want to to it the really n00b way: Place a link to a spacer.gif image in the email, then look at who accessed the image from your logs. You can even be script-kiddie clever by using a script disguised as an image to record all sorts of good information, like IP, browser, etc.

And yes, spammers use this to see if someone accessed their emails.

Re:Easy (2, Informative)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161868)

"If you want to to it the really n00b way: Place a link to a spacer.gif image in the email"

That's why I don't view/send HTML mail...I go plain text.

Even on webmail accounts, I set them all to not load images unless I ok it.

I thought that was pretty much common sense??

Yes (1)

wantedman (577548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161923)

It's common sense for the tech crowd.

But the story isn't targeting them, it's targeting people who probably don't know or care about that sorta thing.

Re:Easy (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162007)

gmail allows you to DISABLE image displays. that's one thing.

I always disable javascript for anthing that doesn't NEED it.

finally, I use ELM - good old ascii email (when I'm on my unix box). image preview? pffft! yeah, right. only if the 'image' is in vt100 escape sequences ;)

Re:Easy (1)

Overloadplanetunreal (603019) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162790)

Outlook has had this feature for a while as well - images don't load unless you specifically tell them to load. Also, you can add certain domains to a whitelist.

Re:email tracer? (1)

mikael (484) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161811)



You would simply have the E-mail with an HTML attachment that referenced a web image or page somewhere ('img src="". Just a one pixel transparent image would do the trick. The filename would be so obscure, no web spider or wandering web user would find it.

Once the image was referenced, the sender would know the IP address of the computer that accessed the page.

Well Executed Plan (4, Insightful)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161693)

Dunn was/is a lame duck on the board. She has cancer and had no intentions of remaining as the chairman next year. Therefore, she knew what had to be done to stiffle the critics, i.e. friends of the Hewlett family. She succeeded in getting both of them off the board and now all is left is damage control with her taking the "fall". Gotta give her credit.

Re:Well Executed Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16162032)

Agreed.

However, if Dunn got his hands dirty, it will be a rough ride for HP. Dunn is Wall Streets golden boy, if he turns out to be just another CEO, it is going to affect the stock price, big time.

This is about money, not privacy.

The Sting (2, Funny)

sbackholm (203315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161695)

I knew they should have hired Paul Newman.

Why are supposedly smart people so stupid? (2, Interesting)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161699)


Let me answer my own question....because they are amoral.

It's amazing to think these people would sign off on such an act. They had to know that the means to collect information would be shady at best. If they didn't know, they're too stupid to be in their position. It makes one wonder how they got there and what nefarious acts they committed to achieve their position.

Re:Why are supposedly smart people so stupid? (2)

a55clown (723455) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162147)

I can only speculate, but it seems to me that nowadays any high-profile tech firm will have their employees sign NDAs. In addition, if they were using corporate email, why the hell shouldn't the boss be allowed to spy on their conversations? It seems to me that he would have a very vested interest in the discourse of others, especially when trade secrets or insider-only communication is involved.

Ah, Corporate Heirarchy (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161728)

This is yet one more point on the side of "humans were not evolved under conditions that would lead to responsible behavior given extraordinary amounts of power in a society." Personally, I'm with Douglass Adams here - I think that anyone ambitious and capable enough to have gotten such power in the first place should by no means be allowed to exercise it.

Well I guess it's "better" than BushCo etc spying on all of our phones, but at least they can pretend that's for the greater good...

Re:Ah, Corporate Heirarchy (0)

Swanktastic (109747) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161974)

Don't you think it's a bit unfair to indict all of humanity based on the actions of a couple people? Fundamentally, you're making a judgement based on the coverage of one news story with little to no consideration of the thousands of companies that don't make the news.

Re:Ah, Corporate Heirarchy (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162265)

Don't you think it's a bit unfair to indict all of humanity based on the actions of a couple people?

If this was the only reason I felt this way, I think you'd be absolutely right. However, I think that I have seen so many cases of small and medium-scale abuse of power at school and at my various places of employment, and even among my peers... it's a pattern to me, and to be honest, I have a hard time imagining having all of that power and responsibility and not tempted to do a few questionable things (if not outright illegal). I really do strongly feel that from an evolutionary psychology perspective, there's little reason that humans would be adapted to this kind of fantastic power and megawealth.

Re:Ah, Corporate Heirarchy (0, Flamebait)

Remedy_man (922349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162179)

I am really sick and tired of people say that Bush and his rodeo are "suddenly" recording every phone call in the country. If you really think that Bush started doing this, than you are an idiot. I mean come on. They have been filtering EVERY phone call in the country for DECADES!!! I mean like from the 70's. They have been checking and recording all phone calls in the country if certain key words get used so that the conversation can be review by a person. Any time you say good phrases like bomb, president, and stuff like that, your call gets recorded and flagged. I don't care about it cause I love this country, and I don't think that the president is that bad(FLAME TIME).

So grow up, get over yourself, and realize that you can blame Bush for everything.

Re:Ah, Corporate Heirarchy (1)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162304)

So grow up, get over yourself, and realize that you can blame Bush for everything.

I've got, oh, about 600 posts here on slashdot. Find one where I blame everything, most things, or even a lot of things on Bush. Bush is a symptom of a much greater problem, and I too am worried about people blaming him instead of fixing the root problems (ignorant voters, campaign financing, etc blah blah).

The Bush administration has admitted to this kind of monitoring. I don't know where you get your information about what secret stuff other admins have been up to - this kind of secret stuff is supposed to be secret.

I have a friend who's phone is tapped by the FBI (I don't call him, hah) and I can't believe everyone's line is being monitored for keywords on all calls, it seems like too much effort for not enough reward, compared to, say, monitoring all international calls (something that may even be constitutional).

Very elaborate plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161761)

Apparently Mark Hurd setup a fake betting parlor to ensnare the cnet dude because he had killed one of his friends.

If the government can do it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161783)

If the government can spy on private citizens, why not big business?

If the Republicans are looking for a legacy for the 21st Century, I think they found it.

Is it any suprise that HP tends to donate more money to Republicans then Democrats [opensecrets.org] ?

Re:If the government can do it... (3, Insightful)

Epsillon (608775) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161891)

Because big business hasn't even got the thin veil of legitimacy "the mandate of the people" gives goverments. IIRC, a company or PLC has the same rights and obligations under the law as any other individual/legal entity.

Let the companies get away with it and it becomes a free-for-all privacy nightmare.

Why is what HP did wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161788)

By that I mean, why is this wrong if it's not wrong for the United States Government to perform warrantless wiretaps and home invasions of every US citizen?

What comes next? Waterboarding for the board of directors at Cisco?

Do you suppose the HP board members can extend their outrage to outrage at the thought of the government spying on all of us (of which the HP board are generally a subset)?

I wonder how many HP board members contributed to the last re-election campaign for our maximum leader.

it's all wrong, dammit (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162109)

we have here the old question, I think used rhetorically to get some folks thinking about our president and his advisors, of "If Jimmy jumped off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff, too?"

paranoia, spies, and lies is wrong, wrong, WRONG no matter who, when or why.

those HP folks must have been gorging on somebody's stash to risk the company because they don't like reading trade rags. if they don't like reading trade rags, then geez, get real, don't read 'em. drone on with your little laser pointers and bullet points and cash in your options like good little board members, take your junkets, and don't have any contact with the streets. that's what BoDs are supposed to do.

Illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161795)

While this whole affair stinks and is without a doubt in a very shady area ethically, I'm having some difficulty seeing precisely where it is illegal.

I want to stress that I agree this is a stupid and amoral thing. I'm not some kind of monster. I never would have done this. That said...

As near as I can tell, they leaked a fake document and then attempted to see who the reporter forwarded it to for confirmation. They did this by turning on a feature that made the document call home. To my knowledge, this is not illegal.

They also acquired telephone records for a bunch of HP employees. Now, this seems to me to most likely have been the illegal step. It isn't clear to me how they went about doing this, and what HP employees had agreed to. Never mind the legality of this - how did they actually manage to convince someone to turn over the records?

I'm not condoning this, I'm just a little unclear where the law was broken. Can someone explain?

You're joking, right? (4, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161908)

"I'm having some difficulty seeing precisely where it is illegal."

Let me call up your cell phone company, claim I'm you (because I've managed to get your SSN), and then get all your call records.

Then, I'll send you a trojan horse to your computer so I can record your keystrokes to see who and and what you're mailing.

Are you okay with everything so far? Does that seem all legal and above-board?

Re:You're joking, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16162075)

As I already said, I don't understand how they got phone records. I find it likely (but not certain) that was illegal. Do you know for sure how they got phone records?

Re:You're joking, right? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16162249)

"Then, I'll send you a trojan horse to your computer so I can record your keystrokes to see who and and what you're mailing."

This is highly inaccurate, and indicitive of how badly this whole situation has been reported.

There was no trojon horse, just an email formated in html which included weblinked images. Open the email, and your IP is logged.

Sounds horrible. So go talk to ebay, yahoo, just about every other company out there. This is so common it's pitiful. And any decent email client (like thunderbird) will screen against this.

So where is the accountability for accurate reporting? There is a huge (legal) difference between a trojan horse and a webbug in an email. Our press is that gullible and ignorant that they cannot tell the two apart.

Just like "pre-texting" has been a security hole for decades. And widely used in civil cases, etc.

It's bad, but the consumer companies like ATT, cingular, Verizon, etc all enable it. Want to make it go away? Have those companies tighten up how they protect your private data.

But no one seems to recognize that HP was legally obligated to find and address the source of the leak. Leaks of financial info governed by the SEC are illegal, and could have landed HP in far larger hot water than this. (Think insider trading, etc)

And the press also had to know leaks of this nature were illegal. Where is their accountability?

Not only are they mis-reporting the story, they are also the root cause of the problem by seeking out insider information restricted by the SEC.

I see all the big brother whining as simple ignorance of how tightly regulated corporations are about their financial information. You'd have thought that with Martha folks would have learned that insider info is illegal, highly damaging to the market, consumers, and stockholders.

We should focus on the real culprits in this case! (the people who allowed private data to be leaked)

Alan

Re:You're joking, right? (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162769)

[leaking] insider info is illegal, highly damaging to the market, consumers, and stockholders.

Also damaging to the company's internal structure.

A few years ago the company I was at was having trouble with leaks. It finally came to a head when a trade journal practically quoted the CEO's presentation to the company meeting verbatim.

Net result was that upper management STOPPED TELLING THE REST OF THE COMPANY EMPLOYEES ANYTHING AT ALL about the company's forward planning.

This caused all sorts of problems.

Re:Illegal? (1)

xactoguy (555443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161936)

Apart from spying on their own employees, HP also had several journalists targeted [com.com] and a journalist's father [com.com] 's phone records obtained, by 'prextexting' [wikipedia.org] (read: illegally lying to obtain information).

Re:Illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16162344)

In several states, the acts HP personnel committed might be legally construed to fall under the stalking laws and be felonies.

Irony (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161799)

"The document, one of more than two dozen e-mails obtained by The Washington Post, for the first time links Hurd to an internal investigation of media leaks..."

Scandal? I think not! (0, Troll)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161814)

The Washington Post quotes someone calling this a scandal. I don't see how it is. People hire private investigators all the time. HP had an idea that someone in their company was leaking information to the media. Why is it scandalous that they would want to find out who it is? I think if they just didn't do anything that shareholders would be pretty upset. I applaud HP for their efforts. I doubt they did anything illegal. If something they did was illegal we should be asking ourselves if it should be illegal. The people have a right to investigate just as much as the authorities do.

Funny how Bill Lockyer doesn't think so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161865)

Since California's Attorney General has launched an investigation, has already pronounced HP guilty of grave violations, and is very likely (for those familiar with NY's Spitzer) to levy fines in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

I find it funny that Slashdotters because they love HP approve of actions that are illegal under California law, for the private gain of HP boardmembers, while decrying GWB listening in to Al Qaeda plotters. But regardless HP will likely face around $200-300 million in fines and criminal trials, convictions for it's top executives and board members.

I would not want to be an investor in HP, it's basically toast as the executives circle around the drain and the liabilities are only growing.

Re:Funny how Bill Lockyer doesn't think so (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161886)

I see you believe in "Guilty until proven Guilty". Besides you have me all wrong. I support the NSA wiretapping program and I'm not that fond of HP. I just think that people should be able to investigate shit without taking crap from the government.

Re:Funny how Bill Lockyer doesn't think so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16162445)

Oh, and another thing. There's nothing unethical about posing as someone you aren't. Sometimes it's the only way to get the job done.

Sincerely,
Bryansix (761547)
http://www.discusswhatever.com/ [discusswhatever.com]

Re:Funny how Bill Lockyer doesn't think so (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162517)

Touché

Re:Scandal? I think not! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16162213)

Why does all the calumny attach to the management (who admittedly overstepped the mark) and not to Hiram Leaker III who with his grand CV felt able to spread privileged stories from the boardroom. He should have resigned honourably if he was uncomfortable (as he may have been entitled to be). Can we be reminded of his name? Often?

So what? (1)

grant420 (985416) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161826)

If I worked for HP and depended on their stock options for (a good portion of) my retirement, I wouldn't be the slight bit muffed by management doing whatever it takes to stop leaks that may end up hurting the company through the loss of valuable trade secrets, technology, etc. That's the board's job - to raise the stock.

Re:So what? (1)

Alchemar (720449) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162021)

Or they could just "take you out", or dig up enough information on you so that they could enact some clause that does not allow you to get your retirement. Putting the extra money back into the coffers should raise the stock some. Maybe they could just get your whole identity, open up a few credit cards in your name, and use them to pay everyone a dividen.


Stealing peoples idenities and hacking into their computer systems to obtain private information is a crime. If they could find the leak using leagal methods fine, if not they should have been more careful of who they hired. Have you checked the worth of their stock lately?

Re:So what? (1)

grant420 (985416) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162171)

"Have you checked the worth of their stock lately?"

Yeah, the price went up when Dunn said she was stepping down last week.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

sizzzzlerz (714878) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162026)

If I worked for HP and depended on their stock options for (a good portion of) my retirement, I wouldn't be the slight bit muffed by management doing whatever it takes to stop leaks that may end up hurting the company through the loss of valuable trade secrets, technology, etc. That's the board's job - to raise the stock.

Ok, for the sake of argument, let's assume that you would stop short of approving the murder of the leaker(s). Just how far, short of that, would you still feel good about: knee-capping, breaking the bones in one's hand with a hammer, kidnapping a family member, burning down their house, torturing their cat, etc.?

Remember, you are protecting trade secrets here and the value of your HP stock is at stake.

I hope you think this is absurd but your comment is stupid. It is not the board's job to break the law and it is not within their purview to do anything necessary to protect the stock.

Re:So what? (-1, Troll)

grant420 (985416) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162527)

I didn't say it was their job to break the law, I said I support what they did. And fuck you if you think my comment is stupid, you little whimpering bitch.

printable page (1)

farker haiku (883529) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161857)

and now with no ads [washingtonpost.com] !

Hmm (5, Funny)

Rethcir (680121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161858)

The reporter was sending out an SOS to the world, because not every little thing the CEO did was magic.

Re:Hmm (1)

grant420 (985416) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161887)

Nice Police reference. Go Sting!

What an Idiot. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161860)

Patricia Dunn(ce) is an idiot. First Fiorina, now Dunn(ce). If you want it done right, hire a man.

How could this happen!? (5, Insightful)

ChefAndCoder (902506) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161877)

What kind of a country could we live in where this type of spying, duplicity, and invasion of privacy would be seen as acceptable by HP's executives!?

Oh . . . wait . . .

Nothing wrong with spying (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161880)

This whole thing came about due to general bashing of the rights of individual, the concept of spying is trying to justify itself and integrate into the culture and psyche. The value of the individual is being eroded daily. The Soviet constution provided all the rights that Americans have. Except there was a clause that these rights can be suspended in some cases "for the good of the state". If you read the Declaration of Independence you will see that the founding fathers believed in the rights of the individual over some lofty pseduo utopian ideal of advancing the state. Governments are instituted for the protection of the rights of people (thats what it says in the consitution).

The people you have running around today justifying spying .. these are the same folks that would have said the 4th amendment is useless. They would have argued strongly against the 6th amendment, and would have laughed at the concept of the 8th amendment. Yet these are the same people passing themselves off as patriots today.

There are folks walking around waving the US flag, and yet they dont believe that all humans are created equal and have inalienable rights. The very concept that founded the country! The nation was formed under war. Redcoat spies and traitors everywhere yet even in those troubled times they instituted the Bill of Rights.

If you listen to the fake patriots speech their philosophies imply that instituting the Bill of Rights back then in the nations infancy would have brought about the demise of the US. Yet the USA prevailed, liberty wins out in the end. They pass off some lie that torture can prevent an attack. But what about the innocent people you torture to prevent an attack?

It may seem that I am offtopic here .. but I am not .. my point is that the general sentiment of folks seems to have twisted from rights of an individual towards the goal of advancing the state towards some utopia. And that is why you have people thinking it's OK to spy on possibly innocent people.

Re:Nothing wrong with spying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16162051)

Not me. Kick them all out of office, and if they refuse to go, drag out out by their teeth with your fire arm of choice.

Re:Nothing wrong with spying (1)

Asylumn (598576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162190)

Redcoat spies and traitors everywhere yet even in those troubled times they instituted the Bill of Rights.


True, but only after they shot all the redcoats.

Re:Nothing wrong with spying (1)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162566)

All one million of them?

The colonies had a population of about three million at the time of the Revolution. It's estimated that about a third of them supported Britain. I don't know how actively Britain was working to undermine the States by the time the traitors to the Crown started writing up the Constitution (I think most of their efforts were devoted to naval harassment, which was a big cause for the War of 1812). But it wouldn't have been hard for the Founding Fathers to slip into the "We have enemies everywhere and we must curb our freedoms until we beat them all" mentality that seems so common today.

Just go ahead and put a target on your ass (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#16161914)

and be done with it!!!

Did Hurd not get the memo that the courts rediscovered the old management accountability rule, "the buck stops here?" Hell, in his case, it was a big loop back since the buck left his desk and returned to it!

What's amazing is how obvious it was that these guys knew that they were committing a slew of felonies, but did it anyway on something that would really creep out a lot of ordinary people. Fat chance of getting a sympathetic jury, Hurd. I hope for your sake you don't get any women on it because if the universe has any cosmic irony reserves left, it'll put a few women who have been victims of stalkers on your jury.

Boardboom Minutes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16161954)

Chairman: Yeah, he skipped out and *ptruut* went to South America!

Board member 1: South America?! What kind of snow blower did you get us mixed up with?

Board member 2: Ok, gentlemen. The fact remains you still have no proof. This is all speculation and hearsay.

Chairman: Wait, there is one way to find out. We set up a sting. You know like Abscam. Like Abscam Jerry.

Board member 2: What are you gonna do? You gonna put on a phony beard and dress-up like Arab sheiks and sit around in some hotel room. I mean come on...

CEO: Wait a second. Maybe there is someway we can tempt him and find out...

Board member 1: If we put our three heads together we should come up with something.

these guys grow up in the Nixon white house ??? (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162049)

the only thing the HP bunch can do is resign, now, and clear the Hell out today. put some field tech in charge of the outfit and try and salvage something.

I have to laugh at the heavy promotion HP is currently running about their Itanic server line, curiously named "Integrity."

folks, there is no integrity at HP when they are all about spies and lies.

Kenny Lay and Bernie Ebbers weren't evil enough to spy on employees, reporters, and each other on the board of directors, for God's sake. looks like all the high rollers at HP were.

Pretexting (1)

stillmatic (874559) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162061)

Why not call pretexting what it is -- stealing using social engineering.

So What's Acceptable? (2, Interesting)

Infernal Device (865066) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162134)

This whole debacle does raise the questions of:

1. How do you stop leaks from occurring?
2. What's acceptable practice to do so?

Obviously, HP went too far in their actions. Investigating within the corporation is one thing, but going outside the corporation, in the manner they did, is beyond the pale. This is a matter easily dealt with by law, without requiring a huge amount of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The first question is more troubling, though. Apple leaks information like a sieve, information that they don't want out there until they do. So do most other tech companies in the manufactured products game, and it's obvious that current sanctions don't work. So how do you kill the leak at the source?

Re:So What's Acceptable? (1)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162347)

Poor Apple, with all that information leaking out of them. No wonder they haven't been able to turn a profit, with all those valuable bits and bytes slipping through their fingers...

In actuality, they're still able to make lots of money. If anything, all the grist for the rumor mill serves to keep the fanchildren running in circles. I doubt leaks are nearly as important as most people think. The reaction you often get to corporate leaks has less to do with the actual damage done, and everything to do with CEOs who can't stand the idea of something happening in the company without his explicit authorization.

If something good leaks, they should just say "we're not confirming that" until they're ready to confirm it.

If something bad leaks, they should work on fixing the problem and taking responsibility, rather than wasting their time wandering the halls with loaded pistols, looking for a messenger to shoot.

Unfortunate Ad Placement in TFA (1)

GogglesPisano (199483) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162136)

Anyone else notice the big HP advertisement at the top the page of TFA: "HP Notebook with Biometric fingerprint sensor - it helps safeguard your data - giving you the peace of mind to get back to business".

I wonder... (1)

avatar4d (192234) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162337)

if they are part of the 56% [slashdot.org] ?

sting != crime (2, Interesting)

theonetruekeebler (60888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162435)

Setting up a sting operation to find and plug a leak is not a crime. If I knew there was a leak in my boardroom, or anywhere else in the company, I'd plant attractive data where suspects could find it, each plant different than the other, and see which one showed up in the Wall Street Journal the next day. And I'd start looking for "@wsj.com" in the To: heading of their outgoing mail, because when I hired them they acknowledged that any mail sent from their work account was property of the company. Says so in their hire letter and at the bottom of each outgoing e-mail.

That said, everything else HP's CEO did stinks to high heaven of criminality. Compromising computers, stalking reporters, and fraudulently obtaining phone records should send a perpetrator to jail.

It's just rich spying on rich (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162448)

I'm not sure I really see the big deal. It's just the rich spying other rich people. It's not like the government spying on everyone. It's not like HP is spying on its own customers. If HP was spying on the cleaning staff that works at its buildings then I think there would be real public outcry. Mostly I think people just find the behavior of HP paranoid (to the point of being a clinical case), but not terribly unethical.

anyone else tired of this? (1)

Simulant (528590) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162480)

...and today it was anounced the the San Jose Mercury News paper will be changing their name to Hewlett Packard News.

They may as well...

I'm a bit tired of hearing about this. The issue has very few implications beyond HP.

On the one hand, If someone is leaking sensitive info, the Board has a responsibilty to stop the leak.
On the other hand, they need to do it legally.

I'm not convinced anyone but the investigators broke any law and I'm not convinced that the people who hired the investigators should be held 100% culpable.

I'm really annoyed that there is any question that lying about your identity to obtain personal information on someone else might be illegal.
I'm seriously annoyed that a whole new word needed to be invented (or at least dredged up) to describe what happened ('pretexting')

I'm really sick of the 5 articles per day that the Merc feels is necessary to cover the story.... but then this is the paper the relegated the Thailand coup story to page three while running "Is it possible that NYC could be safer than San Jose?" on the cover.

Sorry for the rant...

An aside: pretexting (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16162614)

Related to the whole HP thing but not this article is that I've just realized that this whole "pretexting" thing wasn't a form of sending false text messages to phones, but a euphemism for "lying" [ftc.gov] . Just thought others might not have caught on immediately either. I guess I wasn't thinking "low enough" to catch on more quickly.
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