Sunday, May 22, 2005

Shitty Jobs I Have Known (Homeland Security Edition)

Sabotage front cover
Via Ann Bartow at Sivacracy, we learn of a new Department of Homeland Security report entitled the Insider Threat Study (.pdf here, which examines computer sabotage in banking and finance, telecommunications, transportation, emergency services, public health and other "critical infrastructure sectors." Now, I'm not sure what the precise mission of Homeland Security is — you can try to make some sense of it here — but the ITS report looks to me like yet another iteration of the simple but timeless proverb, "pissed-off employees are likely to fuck stuff up." The report finds that
The ITS’ examination of incidents of insider sabotage across critical infrastructure sectors found that most of the insiders who committed acts of sabotage were former employees who had held a technical positions with the targeted organizations. The majority of the incidents examined under the ITS were perpetrated against private sector organizations.

Insider activities caused organizations financial losses, negative impacts to business operations and damage to reputation. As a result of their involvement in the incidents reviewed for this study, almost all of the insiders were charged with criminal offenses. The majority of these charges were based on violations of federal law.
I'm not sure how this all fits in with the whole war on terror thing, except to note that traditional workplace sabotage now seems to fall under the ever-expanding rubric of "terrorist or terrorist-related activities." Some of the stories, however, are quite inspiring:
After more than four years of successful service marked by stellar performance reviews, management commendations, and nomination for the organization’s executive training program, a female employee filed multiple complaints with human resources against her male supervisor and male coworkers. She claimed her coworkers had made sexual remarks, overridden her technical decisions regarding databases (an area in which she was considered an expert), and contacted her team’s contractors regarding her projects without her knowledge. No action was taken by human resources, and the actions by her coworkers continued. The employee’s performance reviews declined sharply in the next two years, and she was demoted. Subsequent complaints to her supervisor resulted in a suspension for insubordination. Almost a year following her written complaint to human resources, she resigned and began employment with another organization. Two months later, she learned that only her more recent, negative performance reviews had been forwarded to her new employer. She used one of several shared DBA accounts to delete critical table spaces in the organization’s Oracle database, deleting crucial data. Due to a coincidental problem with database backups during the same time period, 115 employees had to spend 1800 hours to recover and re-enter the lost data.
You go girl.