Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Black Ops

Black Ops: "A Black Operation or Black Op is a covert operation typically involving activities that are highly secret."

I know it's something we're not supposed to talk about and we should all be under cover (is this fight-club?!), but it's so much fun and there are so many areas to tap into to just keep it hush-hush!

Depending on the employee's seniority and job title, orders can come from multiple people/departments:
  1. Company Owners

  2. Audit Department

  3. General Managers

  4. Department Manager

My company has been unfortunate to have had multiple naughty employees and managers in which high management had to resort back to us, Black Ops, to uncover/retrieve a piece of evidence and in other cases erase records of an error one of the higher ups made so it wouldn't expose sensitive information.

At one time, highest management asked to stalk someone's corporate email and sniff news of certain criteria, along with gathering information from that employee's machine that may indicate incriminating behavior.
At that time, only 3 people knew about the operation: The top manager and the 2 Black Ops involved, and it remained that way until that employee was fired (even though we stopped looking for info a bit before that).

The fun of having such a job is that it doesn't rely on technical skills only, but on social engineering ones as well. You'd have to create an undeniable and convincing diversion at the right time for the right people to be able to achieve total stealth.

My company doesn't have VoIP deployed, yet, so we're still not required to snoop on phone calls as well (which would be quite annoying to us), but I guess it's inevitable. I hope someone comes up with a decent sound-processing software that can look for certain words in voice files before we're asked to fish for voice packets!

You can't tell whether it's an actual problem, or if it's us putting on our black hats and chuckling at your private chats with many guys pretending to be girls. Why not? Simply because our diversion is either a common problem, or we create such issues once in a while just in case we needed a diversion one day. By the time you, a naughty employee, sense a snooping act, it would be too late.

A tiny network outage, a printer driver reinstallation, sudden Operating System freezes, stealth installation of a piece of software or a background job, a quick computer restart, ...etc.

Rogue Black Ops are a bigger problem to companies than dirty & naughty employees themselves. This kind either sniffs data for fun, blackmailing or a dirty/naughty employee had bribed them to erase records of evidence (of which they keep a copy to blackmail the dumb employee later).

The only way to fight rogue Black Ops is by enforcing tight auditing on all IT infrastructure: VPN Access times, over-time claims, assigning an entry-level administrator to handle the VPN server (to make sure he doesn't have the experience to cover evidence nor having formed a relation with existing staff).
Ironically, the above may also interfere with investigating a rogue audit employee!

The company owns the data
We pwn you
Weep, threat, cry and fret
We pity the fool

Got stories to share? Kindly post as Anonymous ;)


Anonymous said...

This is one of the coolest posts I have read ever. I had no idea such companies existed in Kuwait!

MBH said...

It's not about the company. It's about the people who can pull this job ;)

BloggyLife said...


you know what's missing in the bottom line, finish with ..


One issue, is the amount of data collected, ex. on a file server level we can't log every action for every user!! Ya3nee where to store such data and put unnecessary load on the server ...

We can log delete for example or log every action for a suspicious user.

Bas 3ajabnee the name, I think I'll form my own, except it'll only be me, since everything is dumped on me ;P

I confess sometimes I delete my own personal track, malee khilq the company ;P

But also, I don't provide info for people who I know want a report just to harm an employee ..

wAllah having control is both a curse and blessing

MBH said...

I said post as anonymous... It was for your own good :p

I didn't come up with the name Black Ops. I came across it while reading online long ago.

If someone asks me to hand over all info, including personal pictures, just to blackmail that employee or cause harm, I'd report them to the higher management, and not give the info.

We take orders, but we respect people's privacy and hence can sometimes refuse following orders from a certain level and raise it to the next level.

As Tony Shalhoub in Monk always says: "It's a gift... and a curse."