Is Most IT Really Corrupt?


  • Service Provider

    This discussion comes up all of the time, I find that the majority of issues that I see in dealing with SMB in the real world and the vast majority that we see on online communities for IT tend to point to some level of what I call corruption in the business. Corruption can take many forms, which I will note, but this seems to be a thought process that few share with me, yet to me it seems so incredibly obvious that I don't understand how anyone thinks that it is not the norm. @JaredBusch is on the opposite side of the fence and generally sees similar situations that I do, so I'm decently confident that we are often reading from the same data set.

    I have found what I believe is that the average IT worker (person tasked with doing IT for a company) is corrupt and those that are not often describe their direct management as being corrupt for one reason or another. They rarely will agree with the third party assessment, but this seems to be an emotional reaction to someone reading back their description of the situation.

    Some of the things that I see as being corruption:

    • Using IT for embezzlement
    • Using IT for money laundering
    • Using IT to steal company data
    • Using IT to get secret jobs for friends and family (not company approved)
    • Using IT to create risk for the purpose of job security
    • Pretending to do IT while actually not doing the job expected
    • Acting as a subversive seller's agent when paid to be a buyer's agent
    • Taking kick backs from salespeople in order to ensure a sale
    • Accepting pay to do a job they know that they cannot do and do not honestly attempt to do
    • Using risk or bad practices to attempt to hide incompetence
    • Taking control of the company network and holding it hostage
    • Selling expertise where there is none

    These are all examples I've had first hand experience with, in some cases when IT staff stealing the majority of a company's profits (small company, but nearly a million in theft over a number of years.) These are cases I believe I see several times per day. Given things that we know about how companies operate, we know that corruption is rarely caught, when it is caught it is not always easy to prove, when it is proved it is normally kept hushed and only in the rarest circumstances would there be any public knowledge of it. Owners don't like to admit being scammed, scammers certain don't brag about having screwed someone and corporations don't like to loo weak. Everyone wants to hide it. So we know that it's hundreds or thousands of times more likely to happen than for anyone to talk about it.

    IT is a job that is tied to the business and is defined by its ability to protect the business from risk, and enhance its ability to work. It's a creative job with a tremendous amount of latitude which makes it a simple place to hide incompetence or worse. There is rarely any oversight, nearly unlimited capability to hide and as we know it is trivially easy to make things appear safe and only put the business, not the IT staff, at real risk.

    When IT does not do this, I feel IT is corrupt. Of course, the question is not if IT often does a bad job, that's without question. The question is... why do they do a bad job. Is it because IT is just too hard for most people? That doesn't seem like a plausible answer. IT is hard, but resources are abundant and there are loads of skilled people out there to help those stuck in areas they are not versed in. Most problems I personally see in IT aren't technical at all but would be equally seen as corruption or unethical in any field and require zero understanding of IT to discuss or audit - an accountant doing the same things would be just as corrupt, for example. So technical or IT unique issues can't be the problem, but they might make it easier to hide.

    Am I crazy? Looking at daily threads in some communities, I've seen this effect get so strong that people have opened threads to complain about having gotten caught doing example this stuff, lots of people commiserating that the company should allow the corruption and then openly talking about taking illegal retaliation against them: in public! And almost no one even suggested that stealing from the company (being paid to act as a buyer's agent and then acting as a seller's agent instead) or retaliating (doing intentional damage to "get back at them") were bad at all!

    IT has a job to do. Researching continuously, doing cost analysis, understanding the why not just doing something that sounds acceptable, checking the risk, protecting the business from external predators, etc. These are the core IT functions. If we don't do them, why does IT exist? Running math to understand what decisions are good or bad is the core of IT. It's not a special function to do once in a while, it's what our career is built upon. If we don't do it, who is? No other role has the knowledge necessary to do this. If we don't do this stuff, why even have IT? Once we stop doing the core jobs that make us IT, a secretary can literally do our jobs without any training - and they should because they will be cheaper and easier to replace.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    Am I crazy?

    Yes but that's not relevant to the article :P

    This was an interesting read, but I admit way outside anything I've ever seen. Incompetence sure, theft? No.



  • The issue is see most often is people refusing to think what they've done / allowed / purchased / recommended is in any way bad for the business, because the business is functional.

    They don't see that spending more for a solution, when 15 minutes of conversation could've easily saved thousands isn't corruption. But a screw up.

    It's the unwillingness to discuss plans for business needs on community forums, or by hiring an outside perspective to review anything that leads to these kinds of cases.

    I'm sure there are blatantly obvious cases of corruption, I've just never come across them.



  • @scottalanmiller

    hmm, not sure if I agree with you on this one (But I don't have vast experience on being manager or supervisor), while some aspects are true especially this one:
    Taking kick backs from salespeople in order to ensure a sale
    It does not happen like that, you just get better treatment from the sales personnel maybe discount for personal purchases, but that's it.

    Especially since if you bought garbage I.T equipment and it fails, you will be the first to blame .

    I guess management does not always realize how much resources does an I.T admin/super/manager has, and he should be properly paid with good salary, and pass the internal HR trust as well as the managers.

    Cause for example using Saltstack or whatever I can pull files from minions and stuff like that, and yes I.T admins do have great power, but also a lot of headache and I don't have time and effort to snoop around especially where I work the I.T is 1 man show...

    Good Companies should always hire more than 1 I.T mind that should be standard, and request monthly report or power point presentation of current projects (documentation).

    And most importantly the Managers should be able to read an email about I.T concern more than 3 sentences....

    Btw where I work I did this and was motivated being the first I.T supervisor position I had , and created monthly power point presentation to showcase I.T development, dude they get bored and no one cares as long nothing is failing on their machines, so you stop. Maybe cause I work in an NGO and not business and they dont have business goals (the money is coming regardless.)

    Hopefully my next company wont be like this.


  • Service Provider

    @MattSpeller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    This was an interesting read, but I admit way outside anything I've ever seen. Incompetence sure, theft? No.

    But is incompetence a form of theft? If you take a job as a bouncer, but know you will run away in fear when someone tries to get into a bar fight in your club, is that theft - taking pay for a job you know you won't do? Incompetent IT where the job needed or expected is actually out of reach, but accepting pay for it even knowing that the job will not be done, isn't that theft? There is some grey area there, of course, like thinking you can do the job but not doing it well. But in most cases what we find is that the job isn't done, at all.

    Example... IT needs to decide on what's the best option for the company. This of course means, by definition, financial analysis. IT doesn't do that and just buys whatever sounds good. The "IT" portion wasn't done, at all, only the purchasing portion that a purchasing person could have done. That, to me, is direct theft.


  • Service Provider

    @DustinB3403 said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    The issue is see most often is people refusing to think what they've done / allowed / purchased / recommended is in any way bad for the business, because the business is functional.

    They don't see that spending more for a solution, when 15 minutes of conversation could've easily saved thousands isn't corruption. But a screw up.

    If this somehow happened "on accident" I'd agree it was a screw up. If the person tasked with doing this either avoided it because they couldn't be bothered to do their job knowing that they'd not likely get caught since how do you prove someone didn't think about it; or doesn't do it because they know that they don't know how, that's corruption to me.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    @DustinB3403 said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    The issue is see most often is people refusing to think what they've done / allowed / purchased / recommended is in any way bad for the business, because the business is functional.

    They don't see that spending more for a solution, when 15 minutes of conversation could've easily saved thousands isn't corruption. But a screw up.

    If this somehow happened "on accident" I'd agree it was a screw up. If the person tasked with doing this either avoided it because they couldn't be bothered to do their job knowing that they'd not likely get caught since how do you prove someone didn't think about it; or doesn't do it because they know that they don't know how, that's corruption to me.

    Corruption and incompetence can have a fine line though. I tend to think most of these cases are born out of incompetence, not corruption.

    Thus they shouldn't be doing the job.


  • Service Provider

    @msff-amman-Itofficer said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    hmm, not sure if I agree with you on this one (But I don't have vast experience on being manager or supervisor), while some aspects are true especially this one:
    Taking kick backs from salespeople in order to ensure a sale
    It does not happen like that, you just get better treatment from the sales personnel maybe discount for personal purchases, but that's it.

    Oh no, people can get houses and cars out of this. Not in the SMB, but this is huge. What percentage of people do this, I don't know. That it happens is certain.

    But personal discounts, that is a direct kick back. It's money in their pocket that they didn't have before. Whether it is free meals, expensed trips, golf club memberships or a new house... these kickbacks really do happen and they exist for one reason... to bribe someone to sell out the company.


  • Service Provider

    @msff-amman-Itofficer said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    Especially since if you bought garbage I.T equipment and it fails, you will be the first to blame .

    I guess management does not always realize how much resources does an I.T admin/super/manager has, and he should be properly paid with good salary, and pass the internal HR trust as well as the managers.

    But does this change anything? Would paying more make people have critical thinking? If so, where are these critical thinkers hiding? What work are they doing that paying better would make them appear in IT?

    I'm sure some are running their own businesses, some are managing hotels... but by and large, does raising the pay change the pool of talent? We are not talking about an individual business, but the entire field.


  • Service Provider

    I think a point that is being made here, and one that was made to me offline, is that companies treat IT as unimportant, don't audit it, don't check into it and don't care what it does... so they pay badly, and are then stuck with people who can't do the job. I totally agree. Management has to be enabling corruption. But I don't think that that changes the corruption, only explains why it must happen. We don't pay enough for anyone to accept the jobs unless they are making money in some other way from the deal. So it is going to be expected. That makes sense.

    But no one has to work in IT. It's just that management practically engineers a corruption scenario. I'm 100% on board with that logic. But I think it supports, rather than disagrees, with my hypothesis and observations.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    ir own businesses, some are managing hotels... but by and large, does raising the pay change the pool of talent? We are not talking about an individual business, but the entire field.

    Well for starts having I.T helper can make documentation is easier and after I worked on project with ThoughtWorks, they pair up as driver technique, and 2 sit on one machine, 1 develops and the other helps to understand and document.

    Documentation fights corruption cause it removes you out of the dark. and if I left the company I cant leave them hostage cause they have the docs which will allow another person to follow and understand.

    Maybe I am not being subjective, but the thing what I am basically saying is the current model in SMB to hire 1 I.T person to deal with:

    User issues and I.T Support
    Handling of servers in the best way
    And Printers of course
    And add more responsibilities like developing new tools and solutions to help the org (XMPP Chat/NextCloud/osTicket/SaltStack/Intranet site/...etc)

    Is not the best way to go if they genuinely care about I.T continuous improvement.

    AND I NEED RAISE PEOPLE



  • I would tend to say because of the lack of oversight and review that IT personal become lax, and start to do things in such a way that makes "their lives easier" which in turn results in some sort of corruption issue.



  • @msff-amman-Itofficer said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    ir own businesses, some are managing hotels... but by and large, does raising the pay change the pool of talent? We are not talking about an individual business, but the entire field.

    Well for starts having I.T helper can make documentation is easier and after I worked on project with ThoughtWorks, they pair up as driver technique, and 2 sit on one machine, 1 develops and the other helps to understand and document.

    Documentation fights corruption cause it removes you out of the dark. and if I left the company I cant leave them hostage cause they have the docs which will allow another person to follow and understand.

    Outside documentation or review would provide this.


  • Service Provider

    @DustinB3403 said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    I would tend to say because of the lack of oversight and review that IT personal become lax, and start to do things in such a way that makes "their lives easier" which in turn results in some sort of corruption issue.

    That's a very real thing. How many departments have so much opportunity to no longer do their jobs and have no one notice?


  • Service Provider

    @DustinB3403 said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    @msff-amman-Itofficer said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    ir own businesses, some are managing hotels... but by and large, does raising the pay change the pool of talent? We are not talking about an individual business, but the entire field.

    Well for starts having I.T helper can make documentation is easier and after I worked on project with ThoughtWorks, they pair up as driver technique, and 2 sit on one machine, 1 develops and the other helps to understand and document.

    Documentation fights corruption cause it removes you out of the dark. and if I left the company I cant leave them hostage cause they have the docs which will allow another person to follow and understand.

    Outside documentation or review would provide this.

    Or would at least help. Good auditing and oversight can go a long way.



  • IT does give you the ability to commit crimes with much less of a chance of being caught. If I go to the local walmart and hold a gun to somebody's head and rob them for $23.45, the police will be called and a somewhat large effort will be put together to find me. On the other hand, if I do some online phishing and completely hide my identity and steal let's say $3,000. It's likely that no effort will be put in to track me down.



  • @DustinB3403

    Yh like someone will understand the mess that I create besides me.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    How many departments have so much opportunity to no longer do their jobs and have no one notice?

    I'm sure there is enough opportunity to cause this to be common place, which is why it's seen so often.


  • Service Provider

    @IRJ said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    IT does give you the ability to commit crimes with much less of a chance of being caught. If I go to the local walmart and hold a gun to somebody's head and rob them for $23.45, the police will be called and a somewhat large effort will be put together to find me. On the other hand, if I do some online phishing and completely hide my identity and steal let's say $3,000. It's likely that no effort will be put in to track me down.

    And that's not IT, just white collar crime vs. blue collar. IT takes it to a whole new level where even the people being stolen from generally cannot identify that theft has happened.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    @IRJ said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    IT does give you the ability to commit crimes with much less of a chance of being caught. If I go to the local walmart and hold a gun to somebody's head and rob them for $23.45, the police will be called and a somewhat large effort will be put together to find me. On the other hand, if I do some online phishing and completely hide my identity and steal let's say $3,000. It's likely that no effort will be put in to track me down.

    And that's not IT, just white collar crime vs. blue collar. IT takes it to a whole new level where even the people being stolen from generally cannot identify that theft has happened.

    You must know IT on order to be successful.


  • Service Provider

    @DustinB3403 said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    How many departments have so much opportunity to no longer do their jobs and have no one notice?

    I'm sure there is enough opportunity to cause this to be common place, which is why it's seen so often.

    Hard to want to keep doing the job you are paid to do if the management can't tell when you've stopped. And even if you cause the company to go out of business, the chances that you will still be around and/or that they can identify you as the problem are so low that it is a good risk to take if you are less than ethical.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    @IRJ said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    IT does give you the ability to commit crimes with much less of a chance of being caught. If I go to the local walmart and hold a gun to somebody's head and rob them for $23.45, the police will be called and a somewhat large effort will be put together to find me. On the other hand, if I do some online phishing and completely hide my identity and steal let's say $3,000. It's likely that no effort will be put in to track me down.

    And that's not IT, just white collar crime vs. blue collar. IT takes it to a whole new level where even the people being stolen from generally cannot identify that theft has happened.

    I would rephrase that, because if you notice that something is amiss then it wasn't a perfect crime.

    "And that's not IT, just white collar crime vs. blue collar. IT takes it to a whole new level where even the people being stolen from generally cannot identify who performed the crime."


  • Service Provider

    @IRJ said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    @IRJ said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    IT does give you the ability to commit crimes with much less of a chance of being caught. If I go to the local walmart and hold a gun to somebody's head and rob them for $23.45, the police will be called and a somewhat large effort will be put together to find me. On the other hand, if I do some online phishing and completely hide my identity and steal let's say $3,000. It's likely that no effort will be put in to track me down.

    And that's not IT, just white collar crime vs. blue collar. IT takes it to a whole new level where even the people being stolen from generally cannot identify that theft has happened.

    You must know IT on order to be successful.

    Not for phishing. Not for a lot of things. You can do that via paper.



  • The things you listen are not necessarily because of IT. Other professions could do this to a business as well. This is just a moral issue related to the person not the profession. Because IT can make this easy to do, it attracts that type of person.


  • Service Provider

    @PenguinWrangler said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    The things you listen are not necessarily because of IT. Other professions could do this to a business as well. This is just a moral issue related to the person not the profession. Because IT can make this easy to do, it attracts that type of person.

    Absolutely, 100% agree. But IT I think has loads more opportunity for this... much because IT has access to things and because IT is too confusing for most businesses to oversee and they just hope for the best, which makes a market ripe to be taken advantage of and attracts people interested in taking advantage of it.


  • Service Provider

    Worth noting, in case it is not clear, that a ton of the corruption that I see doesn't come from the people labelled as IT, but the people who are the actual IT decision makes, often people with other titles higher up the organizational ladder who are actually running IT, but not taking the blame or being overseen properly.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    @PenguinWrangler said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    The things you listen are not necessarily because of IT. Other professions could do this to a business as well. This is just a moral issue related to the person not the profession. Because IT can make this easy to do, it attracts that type of person.

    Absolutely, 100% agree. But IT I think has loads more opportunity for this... much because IT has access to things and because IT is too confusing for most businesses to oversee and they just hope for the best, which makes a market ripe to be taken advantage of and attracts people interested in taking advantage of it.

    It really is with jobs that give a lot of power, law enforcement, politicians, government bureaucrats, and now IT will attract bad people because of the power that is inherit in the position. I was a prison guard for the state of Missouri, I was the evening shift supervisor of the supermax unit at the prison I worked at. I saw it with officers who come in fresh and drunk on their power. I got some of them fired because they were going to get people hurt.



  • @PenguinWrangler said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    @PenguinWrangler said in Is Most IT Really Corrupt?:

    The things you listen are not necessarily because of IT. Other professions could do this to a business as well. This is just a moral issue related to the person not the profession. Because IT can make this easy to do, it attracts that type of person.

    Absolutely, 100% agree. But IT I think has loads more opportunity for this... much because IT has access to things and because IT is too confusing for most businesses to oversee and they just hope for the best, which makes a market ripe to be taken advantage of and attracts people interested in taking advantage of it.

    It really is with jobs that give a lot of power, law enforcement, politicians, government bureaucrats, and now IT will attract bad people because of the power that is inherit in the position. I was a prison guard for the state of Missouri, I was the evening shift supervisor of the supermax unit at the prison I worked at. I saw it with officers who come in fresh and drunk on their power. I got some of them fired because they were going to get people hurt.

    You did what is right in that situation. I'd like to think that all of us here would report issues like this to the powers that be. Whether somebody drunk on their power, or just making bad business decisions.


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