Feeds

HP 'routinely' uses email tracking

Web bug uncovered under Congressional spotlight

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

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. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.