What do Mrs. X and Home Depot’s former security architect have in common?

It never ceases to amaze me how some folks mange to land roles for which they should have never been hired into, EVER.  I had such an incident many years ago with an employee (We will call this person Mrs. X).   Mrs. X was a system administrator who as part of their job was responsible for sensitive/private data.  After many months of verbal warnings, written warnings, and HR discipline on a variety of issues including insubordination, I was ready to terminate Mrs. X’s  employment.  The day before this was to happen, I received a frantic call from HR stating that we need to terminate Mrs. X immediately.  When I asked why, the HR department shared with me that they had just received a call from a Federal prosecutor that Mrs. X has recently plead guilty of computer crimes against Mrs. X’s previous employer and would soon be headed to a lovely federal prison.  Mrs. X had purposely sabotaged that employers computer systems and data.  As a side note, Mrs. X was not very creative and left a trail a 3 year old could have followed, but then again, no one said criminals were smart.  Mrs. X was terminated that day.

After this happened, I started to look into how a person with this history could possibly get hired into such a sensitive IT administrative role.  As with most things, the answer was disturbingly simple.  Mrs. X was able to pass all the background checks prior to employment because Mrs. X had not yet been convicted of a crime.   Since this hiring was before my time with the organization, I do not know what the previous employer might or might not have shared during the reference check.  One could logically assume that since these were just accusations at the time, they were most likely not able to share any of that information at that time.   In any case, a future felon was hired into a sensitive role due to the fact their crimes were not yet a conviction.  To this day I wonder if I might have caught this issue if I had been involved in the hiring…sadly, I believe the answer would be no.   It is a key component of our justice system that you are innocent until proven guilty, and this is the loop hole Mrs. X was able to exploit.

As you read the short article about the Home Depot gentleman, you may want to ask yourself “who is responsible for the security of my environment.”

http://arstechnica.com/security/2014/09/home-depots-former-security-architect-had-history-of-techno-sabotage/

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