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Squeezing the DBA


Squeezing the DBA

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Robert DeFazio
Robert DeFazio
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Been there, done that. In the early 1990s, I was confronted with a situation in which I discovered that the two highest paid officers of the company for which I worked were doing things that were in violation of the regulations that governed our industry. I was serving at that time in a high, non-technical capacity and was the third highest paid officer in the company. I knew what consequences could result from their actions, and I disagreed with their actions in a very loud and long argument. The next day, under the premise that the company could no longer afford to keep me, I was fired. The real reason was that I knew too much. My computer access was shut off, and I was escorted out the door, cardboard box in hand.

The first action I took afterward was to start my own business. It was tough, and the income was not the six figure income I had been accustomed to making, but it was a business that I enjoyed and one that made me proud of what I did and what I produced. The second action I did was to respond to a demand to meet on the part of regulators who were pursuing my former employers. That cleared the air with regard to my involvement in the misdeeds of my previous company. Incidentally, the company went out of business only a few months after my departure.

Was the my choice right? Well, it did cause hardship for my family, and it did reduce my income; however, remaining true to one's principles has no price tag. At the end of the day when you are trying to go to sleep, you have to live with yourself and your own approval or disapproval of your actions. I am a believer in the notion that there is a clear distinction between right and wrong. Sometimes the price of being right is high, but it is the only right option.

From a legal point of view, collusion with a person who is attempting to "cook the books" can result in the same punishment as that meted out to the primary malefactor, perhaps even more since the knowledge, expertise, and intention to defraud are necessary elements to make such a plan succeed. Spending several years behind the bars of a jail cell's door are never worth criminally convoluted attempts to keep one's job.

Fear of losing one's job is never justification for cooperating in crime. At some point one has to stand up and be a man (or woman) of integrity and say, "Not on my watch!" It sounds a bit Pollyannaish, but principled behavior is the only antidote to the growing trend of cybercriminality and diminished business ethics. It lets employers know that they didn't hire people lacking a backbone.
mike.styers
mike.styers
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Maybe there is another way to look at this....

Go to jail with the suits or even worse, become their scapegoat, or blow the whistle.

Not such a hard decision after all. w00t
blandry
blandry
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As I watched the Frontline special on the "Madoff affair" I learned that for years, this crook was printing and mailing out trade confirmations and false statements. I had to wonder; 'There must be a database somewhere that is being tweaked with false information, and what DBA is involved in that and the publishing of false reports?'. We never hear about those kinds of deeper level stuff - but I do wonder if there is some DBA under some indictment for such behavior.

On the other hand, yesterday, drug maker PFizer admitted to fraud and 6 "whistle blowers" will split a share of the 102 Million Dollar settlement for reporting this crime. I truly hope one (or more) of those people might be a DBA who came forward when he or she saw data was being played with.

When I went to school for my degree and post-grad degree, it was very normal for people in the IT field to take Ethics classes, and more than once we were given the axiom "Do no harm" when managing data. Today, I don't think Ethics courses are even required - but they should be.

The role of a DBA in part at least, is to 'shepard' data. They should always be honest, even if it means reporting any abuses. Those who delve in the "dark side" with false reporting, lying or such shenanigans should be banned from the IT field for life. No amount of money is worth lying - and as we have seen eventually, anyone who thinks it is gets caught.

Do no harm.

There's no such thing as dumb questions, only poorly thought-out answers...
BN Phillips
BN Phillips
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In August 1945 my country dropped two atomic bombs on Japan killing by conservative estimates over 300,000 people and causing the linger deaths or illness of many more. Smart, able people debated the issues for and against this action. In the end it was decided the deaths that happened would be far less than deaths that would have happened if this strategy was not used. After reading others thoughts here I am hoping that the deciding vote was not cast by a person who job and career was threatened by his vote. I guess "the end does justify the means," or does it?

-bnp
-----------------------------------------------------------
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."
-- Mark Twain
Steve Jones
Steve Jones
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Ethics ought to be a core course for everyone.

It is hard to know what you'd do, but you ought to at least document your case, and not go along.

Follow me on Twitter: @way0utwest
Forum Etiquette: How to post data/code on a forum to get the best help
My Blog: www.voiceofthedba.com
dma-669038
dma-669038
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There are many situations with different areas of gray on this. I have had experience with two. One company I was a DBA in - they were running around 600 illegal copies of this very popular software. I knew if I reported it there would be an audit in no time. They also treated lot of people badly - many times over lunch or coffee we would discuss reporting the issue for audit. They would know that someone who worked there did it, for sure and many people were not sure what that would do to their jobs. Long story short, I quit and someone else reported the matter. But guess what, they hired a CIO who knew some top brass in the software company and the matter went completely unnoticed. The poor guy who was reported got a bad review for no reason and was forced to quit. In the second story the company had falsified books of account. One for Uncle Sam, one genuine. As DBA I had no access or knowledge of this but someone who worked in accounting did. He reported the matter anonymously (I dont know how) and they had an IRS audit which they..PASSED. Nobody knew what happened to the 'bad books' except that the guy lost his job soon after.

If I saw someoone in a bad situation like some of those described yes to me it would be something I had to report. But in corporate situations and those with gray areas I'd rather watch my back.
Steve Jones
Steve Jones
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Good points, dma. There is a lot of gray in the world.

Follow me on Twitter: @way0utwest
Forum Etiquette: How to post data/code on a forum to get the best help
My Blog: www.voiceofthedba.com
Jennifer Levy
Jennifer Levy
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We had no official ethics courses that I know of, aside from possibly something in the social sciences dealing with ethics in research, but our entire school was made to sign a very specific Honor Code when we first arrived on campus. We were bound to report (and there was a vehicle for doing this anonymously) any infraction of the honor code that we witnessed or were approached about and it would be dealt with. Even if it didn't teach us specifics of what we needed to do in order to cover ourselves in such a situation, it made us much more wary of doing anything unethical. I think something covering any legal options we had in such a case would be of great benefit.

Currently, any changes we're asked to make to any data is almost always due to a fumble-finger error on the part of a user, and we need documentation from the user authorizing it. We take a backup of the data before we change anything so we both have an audit trail and information on what to put back if we're asked to later. None of this has been anything the least bit dodgy though. I'd hope that the people I work with and I are ethical enough that we'd make the same kind of audit trail if we had to make the changes, if for no other reason than that we'd have some kind of documentation of what was done when we reported it. I'd also hope that all of us are ethical enough to refuse to do it if possible and document and report it later if not. But as someone said above, you never know what you're going to do until you're faced with the situation.

Jennifer Levy (@iffermonster)
xyzt
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Robert DeFazio (9/3/2009)

Was the my choice right? Well, it did cause hardship for my family, and it did reduce my income; however, remaining true to one's principles has no price tag. At the end of the day when you are trying to go to sleep, you have to live with yourself and your own approval or disapproval of your actions. I am a believer in the notion that there is a clear distinction between right and wrong. Sometimes the price of being right is high, but it is the only right option.
//.........//

Fear of losing one's job is never justification for cooperating in crime. At some point one has to stand up and be a man (or woman) of integrity and say, "Not on my watch!" It sounds a bit Pollyannaish, but principled behavior is the only antidote to the growing trend of cybercriminality and diminished business ethics. It lets employers know that they didn't hire people lacking a backbone.


I totally agree with these two statements.

Some folks here have stated that you don't know what you will do until you are in that situation. I believe that isn't really accurate. We've all been faced with situations where something wasn't right - what did we do then? We either did what we knew was right and felt ok about it, or we did what we knew wasn't right and suffered those consequences. We already know who we are inside. That's my opinion.
dma-669038
dma-669038
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I am somebody who championed the underdog for a very very long period of time. One question i ask myself always - whom am I trying to save and is that person/place really worth it? Sometimes the answer is yes, more often or not it is no. Ethics in the business world is rarely black and white, today companies are warring and tomorrow they are partners. Ditto I would always say while championiong the cause of co workers, even women who suffer harassment. If money is offered 99% of the time people want to let go and are embarassed if you are the one holding on to it. I'd rather find genuine causes to fight for that makes the world better and makes me feel better - like the charities i work with, and people who are really in need of a better life. Within a corporation is everyone looking out for himself or herself that is all.
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