Feeds

Exclusive: HP's printer team in espionage drama

Spies seek ink secrets

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Hewlett-Packard's top secret printer labs are under attack from an audacious rival using the art of deception to gather confidential information.

A group of engineers working on HP's next-generation network laser printer have come under siege from a competitor, The Register has learned. Employees have received calls at work and at home from faux members of the HP team, asking for details on a new 9500 series printer code-named Nozomi. HP has fingered the culprit, we are told, although the company's identity cannot be released at this time.

The calls started to come into HP's Boise, Idaho labs close to one month ago. The spies would pretend to be supervisors from another part of HP. They would grill engineers about toner cartridges and Nozomi's design. Some workers were also called at home with the spy pretending to take a survey about technology and, yes, toner cartridges.

"They know the projects people are working on and where they live," a source said. "They pretend to be someone from another office and ask various questions. They're very smooth in their delivery."

An HP spokeswoman declined to comment for this story.

HP suspects that a competitor has backed the espionage campaign with close to $1 million in funding. An HP executive flew to Boise to instruct employees on what to do when the enemy (or the press) calls. Placards with directions have been placed throughout the well-guarded labs.

HP has a number of fierce competitors in the printer space, including Lexmark, Canon, Epson. and new rival Dell.

Corporate espionage is a somewhat common practice in the IT industry. Oracle admitted to keeping an eye on Microsoft by hiring a lobby group, IGI, to buy garbage from pro-Microsoft lobbyists.

One of HP's competitors appears to have taken a similar course. HP dominates the printer market and makes a killing in the process, so it stands to reason that rivals want to be in the know. In its last quarter, HP's printing and imaging business generated $918 million in profits. ®

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?