Some HR Dilemmas in Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing Firms

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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB101
Case Length : 11 Pages
Period : 1983-2007
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Not applicable
Industry : Information Technology/ Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
Countries : India/ Global

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Excerpts 2

Caselet 2: Preventing Data Theft by Employees

"iPods, PDAs and notebook PC's are now such a common sight in offices that we rarely give them a second glance. Yet a firewire-connected media player can easily download over 6GB of files from a corporate PC in less than two minutes. There have been many high profile data thefts recently, such as the Indian call centre case where a worker sold thousands of UK bank customer records for less than 3 a shot."26

- Matt Fisher, Head of DeviceWall marketing,27 in 2005.

"Enterprises are watching employees and employees are watching employers with increasing unease on both sides. In our global economy with its fluid workforce, in which longstanding relationships of trust are difficult to establish and maintain, the temptation for businesses is clear: monitor every employee, all the time... What top managers of enterprises need to find is a balance between security that can protect their businesses and free communication that can stimulate growth."28

- Richard Hunter, Vice President and Research Director, Gartner Executive Programs.29

In February, 2007, Prasanth Indulkar, an employee of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited,30 was arrested on charges of industrial espionage. It was alleged that over the past several months he had been transferring sensitive information to a senior executive in Reliance Communications31 through e-mails and pen drives.32 Experts felt that such incidents of data theft by employees were not uncommon given the growing use and widespread availability of portable IT devices such as pen drives, PDAs, etc. They said that even popular gadgets like the iPod and other MP3 players, digital cameras, and smart phones could easily be used to steal data by employees as these devices came with a plug-and-play facility coupled with a large storage capability.

Data theft had emerged as a key challenge for all organizations, irrespective of size, industry sector, and location.

Companies operating in the IT and BPO sector were among the worst hit. For instance, in the mid-2000s, the reputation of India's BPO sector suffered due to incidents of theft of sensitive data by employees. In 2005, a Forrester Research33 report had warned that such incidents had the potential to curb the booming Indian BPO sector by 30 percent.34 That year, Abe Usher, a data security expert in the US, coined the term 'pod slurping' to describe the stealing of data through portable devices such as iPods, pen drives, etc. To demonstrate the seriousness of the threat posed by such devices to data security, he developed a proof of concept piece of software, Slurp.exe...

Caselet 3: Curbing Employee Indiscipline >>

26] "Podslurping and Bluesnarfing - The latest IT threats,", September 5, 2005.

27] DeviceWall is a US-based software security services firm.

28] Richard Hunter, "Enterprises and Employees: The Growth of Distrust,"

29] Gartner, Inc. is one of the world's leading information technology and research companies. It consists of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events.

30] VSNL is an internet service provider which was previously owned by the Government of India, but is now a part of the TATA group. The TATA group is one of the leading Indian conglomerates with interests in almost every important sector of the economy.

31] Reliance communications (previously Reliance Infocomm) is a telecom company of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG group) headed by Anil Ambani. It has interests in energy, communications and financial services.

32] "Mole in VSNL Owns up to Spying,", February 23, 2007.

33] Forrester Research, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, is an independent technology and market research company that provides its clients with advice about technology's impact on business and consumers.

34] "Call Centre Theft may Bust India's BPO Boom,", April 8, 2005.


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