According to a recent report by Ars Technica, “a former employee of Hostgator has been arrested and charged with installing a backdoor that gave him almost unfettered control over more than 2,700 servers belonging to the widely used Web hosting provider.”
The report goes on to state that the former employee, identified as 29-year-old Eric Gunnar Gisse of San Antonio, Texas, “was charged with felony breach of computer security by the district attorney’s office of Harris County in Texas, according to court documents…He’s being held at the Harris County Jail on $20,000 bond, a spokeswoman at the district attorney’s office said.”
One of the things we here at Be Different Solutions warn people who are looking for solid hosting options about relates closely to this unfortunate incident.
And the moral of this and other stories like it is pretty simple, really:
Never join forces with a hosting provider that doesn’t have local employees working at their offices – nor with one that doesn’t use a technical support outsourcing provider that insists and guarantees all employees work locally at their facility.
A current cost-cutting trend for many of today’s hosting providers involves hiring remote staff from all over the world. Today’s technology has made it possible to effectively run a company without requiring your employees to work out of your office. Hosting providers can now hire system administrators from anywhere in the world, and grant them unfettered access to their servers to help manage them or provide support for their clients.
At Be Different Solutions, we believe this is an irresponsible way to manage your support staff, and increases the risks of something like this Hostgator employee incident occurring.
The difference here, however, is Hostgator employed him locally – and now he will have to face a court date. If this employee had been working remotely from somewhere like India, do you think he would face any justice? How would Hostgator even begin to charge someone with a crime that technically occurred in another country?
In this case, Hostgator was able to keep close tabs on Gisse – and help bring him to justice once he was caught – precisely because they were able to monitor his activities on-premises.
As the article states:
“Having secret control over 2,700 servers inside a Web hosting provider is no small matter, considering each machine can be used for hundreds or possibly thousands of individual websites. But the alleged series of events also highlights the measures employers can take to keep tabs on rogue workers. Among other things, a desktop monitoring system that took screenshots of employee workstations in one-minute increments helped Hostgator officials quickly zero in on Gisse.”
“Rogue workers” working locally or in a managed outsourced office provides for better accountability, ensures employees can be thoroughly vetted before employment and can be held criminally liable should they break the law. If you are looking for webhosting, ask your provider if they hire remote staff or if all employees work direct from their offices.