Feeds

HP 'routinely' uses email tracking

Web bug uncovered under Congressional spotlight

The essential guide to IT transformation

Congressional hearings have revealed how HP made controversial use of email tracking technology in an attempt to identify the source of a board-level mole.

The mishandled investigation, during which private investigators acting on behalf of HP obtained the phone records and journalists under false pretences, involved an attempt to trick News.com reporter Dawn Kawamoto into fingering her source at HP using electronic trickery.

Kawamoto was leaked false information (purported HP documents) earlier this year in an email from a fictitious disgruntled executive, called Jacob. The documents were sent through an email proxy service called ReadNotify, which uses a variety of techniques to trace and record the IP addresses of any computer on which the file is opened. HP hoped that Kawamoto would forward the documents to her source, ultimately identified as HP director George Keyworth, for verification, thereby fingering him as the mole. In the event, the ruse failed to work.

HP chief executive Mark Hurd conceded he partly authorised the scheme. Hurd told a congressional hearing that he approved the content of the bogus information that would be leaked, if not the email tracer element of the scheme.

"I definitely knew about the content of the email," Hurd said, Computer Business Review reports. "At the time I agreed of content of email, it was appropriate to find the leak. With benefit of hindsight I wouldn't do it again.

"I agree there's a difference between legal and ethical," he added.

Use of the controversial email tracker approach by HP was far from isolated, it later emerged.

Fred Adler, HP's head of information technology security, testified that HP had used the technique dozens of times in the course of previous investigations into employees and others to tackle "issues such as theft, and assisting law enforcement", Dow Jones Marketwatch reports.

Adler added that use of the technique was still authorised, News.com (which explains how the ReadNotify service work in some depth) adds. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.