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Risk

12/2/2008
09:28 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Quick Thinking CEO, Employees Thwart Theft

An employee at Vancouver-based C-W Agencies had requested three backup tapes, other employees at the firm asserted. Problem is: one disappeared.

An employee at Vancouver-based C-W Agencies had requested three backup tapes, other employees at the firm asserted. Problem is: one disappeared.That's the crux of the story that appeared in The Vancouver Sun. According to the story, an employee named Nick Belmonte is accused of taking a backup tape with names and data on 3.2 million customers -- information the Canadian courts believe could have been sold for about $10 million.

Depending on what was on that tape, that's a realistic figure of about $3 per record. And while the backup tape was encrypted, the software and other information required for decryption were on the tape.

From the story:

In her affidavit, Evans recalled she became extremely concerned while driving home from work on Nov. 4 when she learned from her son, Keith Evans, the company's network administrator, that Belmonte had recently ordered another employee to bring three backup tapes to his office, where he made copies.

Only two tapes were found on Belmonte's desk. "The tape containing the customer library data was missing."

The CEO and a C-W director, Brian Page, then phoned Belmonte at home. Belmonte, the company's VP of information technology, was asked how many tapes there should be and he replied "two," the CEO's affidavit said.

Following the discrepancy, the CEO immediately changed the locks to the computer room, and closed off remote access to the company network. The incident also was reported to the authorities.

Quick and good thinking. It appears that the CEO based his decision, in part, on the fact that the accused had been acting erratically in other ways -- always a potential tip-off.

Now, Belmonte deserves the presumption of innocence until all of this is worked out in a courtroom.

Nonetheless, if you have evidence that something has gone awry, it's best to act quickly. This is a far better outcome than to have the data on more than 3 million customers sold to the underground.

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