Industrial espionage? A weird tale

From: Writehand (
Date: 06/13/04

Date: Sun, 13 Jun 2004 20:23:38 +0100

I would be extremely grateful for some feedback on this ...

A close friend of mine has just taken a job with an IT security
company. A condition of employment is that, unless agreed beforehand,
all work (in or out of hours) becomes the intellectual property of his
new employer. My friend has been working on some potentially valuable
software with me and has no intention of handing it over to his new
boss. He therefore made the required declaration and explained that
this single project, nearly finished, must be agreed as separate from
his new contract with them. Fine, they say. No problem.

Then, on the very first weekend after he started work, his home PC was
hacked. He discovered his scheduler had been altered to run Windows
update every five minutes - and this on his old home PC which runs
Windows 98 and doesn't need an update. Weird stuff was happening.

He got off-line fast. A subsequent check found *34* different spyware
programs on his PC. When he realised he was under attack he tried to
delete the key files but could not do so online. He could only delete
them after he'd pulled the plug on his broadband - i.e. someone else
was already accessing them online.

I pointed out that coincidentally it is also only a week since he got
broadband. I wonder whether his old virus settings/firewall were
simply not good enough for a constant broadband connection with the
extra risks it entails. So maybe that's the deal. After all, people
who work in IT are often the worst at remembering to take precautions.

But he's very, very uncomfortable. Someone at work on Friday told him
"You aren't nearly paranoid enough." Spooky, huh?

What does anyone out there think? Please answer soon, as he is
extremely stressed about the situation and feels he may have to resign
in the next 24 hours if he still feels so paranoid. Who wants to work
with people who basically break into your house? An innocent "Duh"
explanation is what I hope for - but any ideas would be very welcome.

Thank you,