Companies Begin Hiring Corporate Snoops to Snitch on Employees

Big Brother is watching. Or in this case, investigative firms.

NPR reports “corporate monitoring” is on the rise as external firms keep a close eye on employees from the inside. For instance, Matt Unger of K2 Intelligence, a NYC-based investigative firm, indicates a certain type of software takes actual shots of employees’ behavior at the office.

He explains in the piece, “We see that this guy Kevin all of a sudden started calling the 410 area code where he never did that before, and he stopped answering emails — he’s being less responsive to his peers.”

Unger adds, “What has he got cooking on the outside that he’s spending so much time on the phone and he’s not able to answer his peers?”

And although red flag behaviors don’t make up a specific type of list of sorts, misconduct can fall into a gray area. As he tries to find insider traders, software aggregates data such as the internal colleagues you IM with, phone numbers dialed from your office landline, and the sort.

Keeping in mind the piece seems geared toward the financial industry, sudden changes in behavior pop out to folks like Unger. It’s not a matter of how many times you visit the coffee station during the day but rather, what happens when two colleagues who previously IM’d during the day start switching to using the phone as their main mode of communication.  During this time if one of them makes a big trade, well that’s reason to wonder.

Ultimately experts like Unger are seeking to vet out insider trading along with money laundering, bribery, embezzlement and fraud.

As for any boundaries external firms may cross, it sounds like they’re pretty much non-existent. Management typically informs employees about their presence and the hired “spy” usually helps companies instill structure surrounding financial controls and a code of ethics.