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Outsourcing – be cautious

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Tuesday May 23, 2006 )

So you outsource some development work to another company – the worse that can happen is they don’t complete the work or produce shabby results, take your money and run, right?

Wrong.. it can get much worse. This blog post is not intended to turn anyone off outsourcing, it’s just something to consider when choosing a contractor.

According to an article on Internet Week, a gambling site was recently found to be distributing malware – and the site owner wasn’t aware of the fact. The article states that a third-party developer hired by the company created the Trojan, which was downloaded and run on unsuspecting users machines when a specific application on the site was utilized.

The trojan collected login information from compromized systems relating to various gaming sites and transmitted those details back to the malware author. The focus of the InternetWeek story was more on the trojan itself, but what sent a shiver up my spine was that a *contractor* was the culprit.

Usually we hire these people to carry out complex programming tasks that we or our inhouse staff can’t handle. This leaves us wide open to contractors playing all sorts of tricks in that programming work -it may not be as something as dramatic as a trojan, but equally as damaging is a back-door built into a system that allows them to return at a later date to create mischief; or worse.

Again, I’m sure this only occurs in a minute minority of outsourcing projects, but nevertheless it’s a possibility and one that needs to be taken into consideration when allowing outsiders (and for that matter, in-house staff) to work on a project. Your reputation is on the line.

Can you imagine the impact that this breach had on the gambling site and its clients? – ouch.

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