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Extensive Spying Found At HP
Kona 2 was prompted by a story by Cnet reporter Dawn Kawamoto about the firm's long-term strategy, and from the February consultant's report, it is clear that HP focused fairly early -- by mid-February -- on board members Keyworth and Perkins. Keyworth has since admitted to leaking information and resigned from the board.
According to DeLia's report, investigators obtained subscriber information on at least 240 of more than 300 phone numbers sought, and was in the process of analyzing them, including the records of phone calls from Keyworth's New Mexico house, to and from his fax and cellphone, as well as his new wife's home and cellphones. Similarly, the firm obtained records of Perkins's home phone calls from Jan. 4 to Jan. 26, including 12 U.S. calls, three to Britain and two other international calls.
According to the report, board members, reporters and their spouses, particularly at Cnet, were subject to broad background checks, including details of where they worked, attended school and lived. Investigators hired through DeLia's firm obtained call information on Kawamoto's home phone, cellphone and a cellphone believed to belong to Kawamoto's husband's. They conducted "[e]xtensive Media and Internet Content Research" on Cnet reporter Tom Krazit and his wife.
The call information was obtained by a technique sometimes called "pretexting," or impersonating someone else to obtain their phone records, HP said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
The investigators also began an e-mail exchange with Kawamoto "under the pretext of . . . . develop[ing] a dialogue with the reporter." Then, he noted, on Feb. 9, an e-mail was sent to Kawamoto with an attached file with "tracking capability," or software that logs keystrokes in real time.
Investigators experienced in corporate work said the technique, called "keylogging," was out of bounds in this case. "I've been doing this a long time and I've never heard or seen of investigators doing those nefarious types of tactics," said Robert Seiden, president of Fortress Global Investigations Corp. in New York. "To get access to a reporter's computer raises a whole slew of privacy and legal issues."
Kawamoto did not reply to phone messages and a Cnet spokeswoman declined to comment. Krazit also declined to comment.
Staff researcher Rena Kirsch contributed to this report.