Magazine article Risk Management

The HP Spy Scandal

Magazine article Risk Management

The HP Spy Scandal

Article excerpt

One of the year's most notorious corporate scandals reportedly began when confidential, long-term strategic plans and other corporate details about information technology giant Hewlett-Packard began to appear in articles written in the Wall Street Journal and CNET with the information attributed to "anonymous sources." Given the content, it was clear to HP's top brass that the press leaks were coming from the board level, and so with the sign-off of chairwoman Patricia Dunn (below), an external firm was hired to conduct an investigation into which board members were inappropriately revealing sensitive information to journalists.

So far, HP seemingly remained within the law. Leaks on the board level are taken very seriously throughout the business landscape, and retaining the services of outside private detectives is not an uncommon practice. The investigation caught lawmakers' attention, however, when it came out that HP's detectives resorted to a forbidden information-gathering technique known as "pretexting," in which they illegally falsified their identities and posed as board members in order to gain access to private phone records. In addition, the phone records and personal information of up to nine journalists targeted by the board as having received sensitive corporate information were gathered by investigators through pretexting, video surveillance, "dumpster diving" and other questionable means. …

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