29 October 2006
21 October 2006
19 October 2006
05 October 2006
The Smoking Gun has an 18 page internal Hewlett-Packard memo describing how HP conducted its investigation. This memo was released to the media by the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Commmittee, which subpoenaed HP CEO Mark Hurd and ex-Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, along with Larry Sonsini, investigators Ron DeLia, Joseph Depante, and nine other people who were active in HP's search for the source of leaks to the press.
Update: BusinessWeek has published more documents, and they don't look good.
According to the Mercury News, Bryan Wagner, one of the investigators involved in Hewlett-Packard's pretexting scandal told investigators he used a hammer to destroy the computer he used for his research. Wagner worked for Action Research based out of Melbourne, Florida. Action Research's site appears to be down, but it's on the Internet Archive. Action Research describes itself as "America’s #1 Information provider" and continues:
ALL OF OUR INFORMATION IS 100% CURRENT AS OF TODAY!Any guesses how they get that "100% current as of today" information? The "no databases" claim strongly suggests they get the data live from the source.
NO DATABASES OR MONTH OLD INFORMATION HERE!
Two of the services they provide are "landline and cellular phone breaks" and "telephone research."
According to the archive of their site, Action Research's Florida (investigative) license is "A 9300021." The Florida Division of Licensing search page gives the the owner and contact information for the company. Action Research has two addresses, one in West Melbourne, FL, and the other in Melbourne. Joseph DePante is listed as the president of the company, and the company website lists his son Matthew as an employee.
While Access Research's site is down, Process Server Canada's page for Action Research is up and, among other things, gives the AOL email address for Action Research. DePante's address is on this page.
updated 5 Oct 06, originally posted 29 Sep 06 4:13pm
04 October 2006
BusinessWeek has published Hewlett-Packard internal emails that shed light on HP's pretexting investigation of reporters and board members, and they don't put the company in a favorable light.
In this email exchange (pdf) in January between Kevin Hunsacker (ex-HP Chief Ethics Officer) and Anthony Gentilucci, Hunsaker asks "how does Ron [DeLia] get cell and home and cell phone records, and whether the investigation is above board. Gentilucci writes: "[the investigators] call operators under some ruse, to obtain the call record over the phone .... In essence, the Operator shouldn't give it out, and that person is liable in some sense. Ron [DeLia] can describe the operation obviously better ... since he, and others, have been using it..." He continues, "I think its on the edge, but above board."
Hunsaker responds "I probably shouldn't have asked ..."
In this exchange in early February (pdf) Vince Nye writes to Gentilucci "As I understand Ron [DeLia]'s methodology in obtaining this phone record information it leaves me with the opinion that it is very unethical at the least and probably illegal. If it is not totally illegal, then it is leaving HP in a position of [sic] that could damage our reputation or worse. I am requesting that we cease this phone number
Vince Nye and Fred Adler express their serious concerns about DeLia's methods in this email conversation in early February. Nye, writing to Adler, says "[DeLia's] information is two [sic] detailed to be obtained via voice over the phone by a pretense operative ..." possibly indicating web access to detailed phone records that board member Tom Perkins complained about in his letter to HP. Adler responds "Agreed, I am VERY concerned about the legality of this information." Nye responds, "it is very clear that this is `Don't ask, Don't tell' with regards to Ron's role."
Nye continues by quoting Kevin Hunsaker, HP's Chief Ethics Officer, as saying "I think Ann [Baskins, HP counsel] knows." Nye adds "Kevin Thinks ....... he doesn't want to go make sure she knows... This is the guy who is suppose to keep us above board!!!!!!!!"
CBS news reports that the California Attorney General will seek felony indictments in charges filed today against former HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, former HP Chief Ethics Officer Kevin Hunsaker, private investigator Ronald DeLia, and outside investigators
Joseph Matthew DePante and Bryan Wagner.
The New York Times and BusinessWeek are also covering the story.
03 October 2006
News stories about HP's ill-conceived investigation of board members' and reporters' phone records now identify the "pretexting" private investigator as Ronald DeLia, owner of Massachusetts-based Security Outsourcing Solutions.
Targets of HP's investigation included HP board member and Kleiner Perkins co-founder Tom Perkins, who quit the board and then wrote a letter to HP describing how investigators fraudulently accessed his personal phone records by using personal information such as his social security number.
DeLia pled the Fifth rather than testify before Congress today on the issue, but in 1999, he was very clear about the matter. In the July 1999 issue (pdf, mirror) of his Corporate Homicide newsletter he quoted an identity theft victim, "when somebody gets your Social Security number, they have the key to your front door forever." The article concludes, "Congress made identity theft a felony [in 1999]."
See also: HP emails not good for Hunsaker, HP investigator destroys his computer with hammer, HP spies on reporter's family, and Congress releases HP investigation internal memo.
Other sites covering the story:
- BoingBoing: EEERNGH! EEERNGH! Irony overload alarm activated!
- Wired's 27B Stroke 6: HP Investigator warns that identity theft is a felony
- Robert X. Cringeley: The buck stops where?
- InformationWeek: Congress takes HP to the woodshed
- Silicon Valley Watcher: When lawyers play spies
- Infectious Greed: Watching the HP detectives
- Wall Street Journal: Probing the pretexters
- Rob Hyndman: The HP saga: focus on Hurd, Hunsacker on ethics
- St. Petersburg Times: Congress calls on pretexters to testify
- Rocky Mountain News: HP scandal reaches state
- Chron.com: HP whistleblower Nye tried to avert scandal
- Law.com: Hewlett-Packard, Wilson Sonsini part ways in Calif. probe
- ZDNet Between the Lines: Hurd says he will re-build board and fix the process
- Rob Hyndman: HP scandal: the buck stops where?
- Mercury News: Incredulous lawmakers grill HP managers
- ABC News: HP chairs agree company behaved horribly
- Mercury News: Hurd becomes focus after HP's top lawyer resigns
- The Financial Express: Dunn says DeLia employed since 1990s
- Macworld: Lawmakers grill HP execs in pretexting hearing
- AP: Lawmakers compare HP scandal to Enron
- SV Confidential: Who's pleading the fifth
- Silicon Valley Watcher: Morning questioning of Dunn and Sonsini
- Reuters: Former HP executives invoke right not to testify
- Bloomberg.com: Hurd says leaks weren't his top priority
- Time Magazine: Is the HP spying scandal another Enron?
- WSJ Law Blog: Kona: Far from paradise for Dunn
- Glenn Fleishman's Glennlog: Dun Dunn
- CNET: Congress to subpoena private investigator
- boqpod.com: Ex-HP Chair says others knew of probe
While Security Outsourcing's web site
no longer gives a phone number lists a phone number that's actually for their lawyers, Gilberg Kurent & Kiernan, earlier archived copies of the site here and here (via the Internet Archive) have the original contact information. The first link is for a recent version of the site and gives a phone number that is listed under DeLia's name and address in Needham, MA. The second link is for a much older version of the site from 1999, and gives a different number that is listed under DeLia's wife's name in South Dennis, MA.
Tom Perkins' letter to HP contains details about the fraudulent access of his phone records. The requests were made using two email addresses: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, the latter being slightly less of a smoking gun than email@example.com. The on-line requests for access came from a single IP address, 188.8.131.52, which belongs to Cox Communications, and which may be for a computer in the Omaha area (based on a reverse lookup and traceroute). The Rocky Mountain news reports that this IP address may have been used by Bryan C. Wagner, a Littleton, CO investigator. Wagner has lived in the Omaha area.
In the May/June 2000 issue (pdf, mirror) of Corporate Homicide, DeLia writes about using Anonymizer to visit web sites and send email without leaving an identifying trail.
DeLia's is the only name on the masthead for Corporate Homicide.
HP's documents quoted recently only say they provided investigators with names and phone numbers. Here's an excerpt from one internal company communication:
We provide DeLia the names and telephone numbers we are interested in, he passes the information to the third-party company, and they then make the pretext calls to the phone service providers,'' Hunsaker wrote to Baskins on May 1.
(updated 3 Oct 06, first posted 27 Sep 06 @ 11:14PM)