US software engineer outsources his job to China

Jan 17, 2013
A woman uses a keyboard with keys illustrating both Roman letters and parts of Chinese charactures on August 27, 2010. "Bob" the software engineer was becoming a modern workplace legend on Thursday as word spread that he had secretly outsourced his own job to China and sat at his desk watching cat videos.

"Bob" the software engineer was becoming a modern workplace legend on Thursday as word spread that he had secretly outsourced his own job to China and sat at his desk watching cat videos.

The tale of Bob blazed across the Internet after being told in a Verizon security team blog post about the most "memorable" case investigators handled last year.

What started as a look into a mysterious secure connection from China to a US-based company's network ended with the discovery that a worker was idling away time at his desk while a Chinese consulting firm did his job at a fraction of his salary.

Evidence even suggested he had the same scam going at other companies, according to the blog post by Andrew Valentine of the Verizon RISK Team.

"All told, it looked like he earned several hundred thousand dollars a year, and only had to pay the Chinese consulting firm about fifty grand annually," Valentine said.

"The best part? For the last several years in a row he received excellent remarks. His code was clean, well-written, and submitted in a timely fashion."

Bob's quarterly performance reviews consistently described him as "the best developer in the building," according to Valentine.

Bob provided secure access to his company's network so Chinese consultants could work on computer code while he was at his desk, giving the appearance he was doing his job, the investigation determined.

Examination of Web browsing history showed that a typical work day for Bob consisted of surfing and watching cat videos online before going to lunch.

He spent afternoons at online commerce site as well as social networks and , and then end his "work" days with an email updating bosses on projects, Valentine said.

Verizon did not identify the company or the worker, describing him as an inoffensive, quiet family man in his mid-40s who had been with the company a long time and whom "you wouldn't look at twice in an elevator."

Explore further: UN study: Cellphones can improve literacy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Perfecting email security

Sep 10, 2012

Millions of us send billions of emails back and forth each day without much concern for their security. On the whole, security is not a primary concern for most day-to-day emails, but some emails do contain personal, proprietary ...

Recommended for you

UN study: Cellphones can improve literacy

21 hours ago

A study by the U.N. education agency says cellphones are getting more and more people to read in countries where books are rare and illiteracy is high.

Gates-funded student data group to shut down

Apr 21, 2014

The head of a student data processing organization says it will shut down in the coming months following criticism that led to the recent loss of its last active client—New York state.

Four questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

Apr 19, 2014

Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers.

User comments : 11

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (3) Jan 17, 2013
I bet they made him a manager ;P
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 17, 2013
Aren't managers paid to outsource in any case?
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 17, 2013
Odd how corporations are permitted to do what individuals are not.

I guess that in America, some pigs are more equal than others.
3 / 5 (4) Jan 17, 2013
LOL, it was just a matter of time...
After seeing how Romney made so much money outsourcing other people's jobs; I guess someone decided to cash in on it. Clever idea. But now his will workplace fire him and keep the company he outsourced his job to? Stay tuned: world ends at ten, news at eleven.
1 / 5 (7) Jan 17, 2013
We should outsource our climate change modeling. We could have a new and improved climate change model three times a week and still save a bundle.
not rated yet Jan 17, 2013
Few years ago or 10 years ago, companies outsourced the software to India but didn't hear much in recent days, why?
5 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2013
Because the outsourcing trend reversed and many of the jobs went back to their home country.

When something unexpected or infrequent happens then outsourcing will almost always fails you because your outsourcer usually make their profit by cutting your safety margins.

Foreign outsourcers are also usually poorly trained and deal with thing out of the ordinary. Not poorly trained in the technical standpoint; more so poorly trained on how to deal with the specific business they are working for. Not to mention turn over issues prevent people from ever attaining the level of knowledge about your company to be able to handle all the possible problems.

Companies that outsource will often notice a large drop in income months after outsourcing that far outweighs the savings. They often realize the mistake and switch back but will have to spend years getting their reputation back.

Sorry for the rant.
2.9 / 5 (7) Jan 18, 2013
If he outsourced and received accolades for his code then he must have been applying the strictest quality control to ensure that he got the results required - and then some.
I admire his initiative and courage to do what he did. I might not agree with him doing it via the company network but then that's probably because of limitations with setting up his own infrastructure at home.
As for it being a scam - one needs to look at the agreements signed with the companies. Did they allow for such an occurrence and he simply cashed in? As long as they got the results they wanted at the price they agreed upon, I don't see any problem with it.
5 / 5 (4) Jan 18, 2013
Did they allow for such an occurrence and he simply cashed in?

Software engineers always sign an NDA.
There's no way you're allowed to outsource your work to third parties without the express consent of the parent company and the legal eagles.
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 18, 2013
Please report natello's racist comment. Thank you.
5 / 5 (1) Jan 20, 2013
what a boss, as a fellow it worker subjected to managers ordering deadlines and "crunch time" to satisfy the shareholders i can barely suppress snickering about this.

More news stories

SK Hynix posts Q1 surge in net profit

South Korea's SK Hynix Inc said Thursday its first-quarter net profit surged nearly 350 percent from the previous year on a spike in sales of PC memory chips.

FCC to propose pay-for-priority Internet standards

The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.

Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies ...

Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?

"I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway—as well as doing everything else that we can—then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering." So says Tom Wigley, one ...

When things get glassy, molecules go fractal

Colorful church windows, beads on a necklace and many of our favorite plastics share something in common—they all belong to a state of matter known as glasses. School children learn the difference between ...

FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

The federal government wants to prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.