October 12, 2010, 6:01 PM — Remember that paranoid relative who told you to always keep an eye on the waiter or the cashier or the carnie or the politician (OK, so maybe paranoia isn't always out of place) to make sure they don't pull a fast one by short-changing you or some other skulduggery that was never really articulated?
And how once in a while when you're using online services that voice comes back and wonders who's tending the servers and whether you're interesting enough for them to read your email or chats? (Unless you're 16 and female, apparently not.)
Happened again, even deeper into the core of the Internet than Google. Elliot Doxer, a 42-year-old finance-department staffer at Akamai Technologies in Cambridge was arrested last week after emailing the consulate of a foreign country known only as "Country X," offering to give up the strategically valuable "invoicing and customer contact information" he had under his control.
The consulate turned the email over to U.S. authorities, prompting the FBI to launch an 18-month investigation to see how far the guy would go. Believing he was selling secrets to Country X, the FBI alleges Doxer turned over confidential but not top-secret business data, leaving his packets in a dead drop and sneaking away, just like a real spy.
Doxer seemed less interested in money than by a desire to help the other country, though he did ask for a few thousand dollars in payment, ranted about how much he hates his ex-wife, and asked for pictures of his son, according to the FBI, which videoed its interactions with him.
An Akamai spokesman said the company cooperated with the FBI from the first, that Doxer was a "junior" employee and no customer-critical data was threatened.
Akamai is a backbone and content-delivery service provider whose high-speed connections support some of the most heavily-trafficked sites on the Web.
A well placed mole could, given the right access, poor security and lax supervision or monitoring, tap into terabytes of confidential data flowing by on private and semi-private connections. Since apparently not enough of those things are in place at Akamai, we have to settle for an accountant who hates his ex-wife and wants to do something important and secret.