Man Outsourced Own Job to China, Then Watched Cat Videos at Work

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on January 17, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When people talk about outsourcing jobs to China, it's mostly to complain about the practice. But for one software developer, let's call him "Bob," it was a cause to celebrate.

Bob worked for a U.S.-based critical infrastructure company. When his company began allowing employees to telecommute using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection, he came up with a scheme.

Instead of doing his work himself, Bob hired someone in China to do his work at one-fifth of his salary. Then, he took it easy, using his free time at "work" to update his Facebook account and watch cat videos online, an investigation revealed.

His plan even worked for a while until someone started checking the VPN logs.

To understand how the company finally caught him, it helps to take a step back and talk about how VPNs work.

When you connect to a server using a VPN connection, you can then access everything that is stored there. It's helpful for working from home if you need to access a lot of information stored on work computers and servers, like Bob did.

But a VPN connection also gives away some information about the person using it.

By checking the logs, an employer or service provider can see where the connections are coming from and how long they're open.

We're assuming that Bob, as a software developer, understood how this works. That just makes what he did even more stupid.

Sure enough, his company began checking the logs and noticed a worrying connection. They routinely saw an open VPN from Shenyang, China, that was open every workday for almost the entire day, reports The Next Web.

This obviously concerned the company as a potential theft of company information. But when their provider, Verizon, looked into it, there was no evidence of funny business.

Then they realized that Bob's information was being used for the VPN. After some additional investigation, they figured out what he was up to and he was unceremoniously fired.

Can they do that? Absolutely. In general, an employer can fire you if you fail to perform the requirements of the job. In this case, Bob hadn't been doing anything for months, so he clearly wasn't meeting his job requirements.

Even more importantly, Bob gave out highly sensitive information to his subcontractor in Shenyang. That almost certainly violated his employment agreement.

Most employees sign an agreement when they're hired that details what conduct is expected on the job. Breaking any of those rules is grounds for termination.

At least Bob got six months of free time out of his not-so-genius plan to outsource his job to China. Maybe next time he'll find a better way to cover his tracks.

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