US programmer outsources his own job to China

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A US software developer reportedly outsourced his own job, hiring a Chinese firm to do it for a fifth of the salary.

Verizon says it uncovered the scam when it was hired by the man's unnamed employer, which suspected a security breach. It had discovered that a VPN connection had been opened between its systems and China almost every day for months - sometimes staying open for the whole of the working day.

"They’re a US critical infrastructure company, and it was an unauthorized VPN connection from CHINA. The implications were severe and could not be overstated," says Verizon's Andrew Valentine.

"The company implemented two-factor authentication for these VPN connection. The second factor being a rotating token RSA key fob. If this security mechanism had been negotiated by an attacker, again, the implications were alarming."

To make matters worse, he says, the developer whose credentials were being used was sitting at his desk in the office at the time.

Verizon staff leapt into action, recovering as many files as possible from the affected workstation - and discovered hundreds of .pdf invoices from a third party contractor/developer in Shenyang, China.

"As it turns out, Bob had simply outsourced his own job to a Chinese consulting firm. Bob spent less that one fifth of his six-figure salary for a Chinese firm to do his job for him," says Valentine.

"Authentication was no problem, he physically FedExed his RSA token to China so that the third-party contractor could log-in under his credentials during the workday."

So what was this man of leisure actually doing with his day? Verizon staff checked his web browsing history to find out. Apparently, he was engaged in a gruellling round of surfing Reddit and Ebay, watching cat videos and checking Facebook, before submitting end of day update e-mail to management.

Worse, it seems that this wasn't his only job: the man had the same scam going across several different companies in the area, and was making a profit of several hundred thousand dollars a year.

"The best part?" says Valentine. "Investigators had the opportunity to read through his performance reviews while working alongside HR. For the last several years in a row he received excellent remarks. His code was clean, well written, and submitted in a timely fashion. Quarter after quarter, his performance review noted him as the best developer in the building."