The Chief Information Officer or IT Manager has a position like no other in companies today.  Specialized knowledge and skill-set put this person in a position to do great things in today’s business world.  More than ever, companies today depend on the IT department to facilitate almost all areas of the company.  While the Chief Information Officer or IT Manager can help their company grow, they can also do great damage to their company and its customers if left unchecked.

In a recent private investigation case, I saw just how powerful the destruction of a runaway Chief Information Officer can be first-hand.  Investigators such as myself have been taught the warning signs of problem Chief Information Officers, which include the following:

1. The Chief Information Officer never takes time off.  Most members of an organization tend to have empathy for the Chief Information Officer due to the mystery behind what happens in the IT world.  The constant pressure to make sure that all systems are working correctly and that all functions are operating smoothly leads most to believe that it must be difficult or impossible for our professionals to take a vacation or even a few days of break. If you have a Chief Information Officer who is possibly committing fraud, however, getting that person out of the office and allowing the evidence to surface is exactly what is required.  The Chief Information Officer’s ability to keep their fraud undercover is an essential part of their plan.  Their ego tells them that they can continue to perpetrate the crime as long as they can manage the situation.

2. The Chief Information Officer is regarded as the smartest person in the room.  This is a problematic (and unfortunately common) fact, because the Chief Information Officer becomes so revered that people come to fear him or her.  The CEO and management team begin to believe that this person is so knowledgeable and essential that there is no choice but to go along with whatever the Chief Information Officer wants or suggests.  They believe that no other person could save the company from doom and mayhem except for the Chief Information Officer.

3. The Chief Information Officer overrides IT security policies.  I have seen instances where the IT Security Manager was working and reporting directly to the Chief Information Officer, who was then preventing even basic IT security measures from being properly performed.  ”No” is the common answer given to the IT Security Manager when he or she wants to implement a security protocol or security procedure (at times, even something as simple as log inspections).

4. The Chief Information Officer has inappropriate/unbridled access to other areas of the company.  Does your Chief Information Officer seem to know about what is happening in HR –  who is getting fired and who is being hired?  I have seen cases where the Chief Information Officer had complete access to the CEO’s email account, as well as HR files, records, and other information. Oftentimes, such information is used in a damaging or threatening way to control or intimidate other employees.  Even the CEO should not have access to everything in an organization.

5. The Chief Information Officer has a large ego.  Problem Chief Information Officers often have prideful hearts, believing that they are superior to the rest of the team members.  Especially be wary of those who directly tell you that you would be in big trouble without them.

6. The Chief Information Officer has a questionably close sidekick. I have discovered in some of my private investigation cases that the Chief Information Officer establishes such a relationship with someone in either the same department or another department.  They constantly hang out or go to lunch, dinner, and happy hour together.  The sidekick seems to know a lot about the company that they have no business knowing.  When someone wants to commit a fraud, they often prey on a lower-ranked employee, who can be used to help perpetrate the crime.  Oftentimes, the sidekick ends up taking the fall for internal theft, credit card fraud, or other frauds that are actually committed by the problem Chief Information Officer.

In an upcoming post, I will provide a list of basic steps on preventing the runaway Chief Information Officer or IT Manager from damaging your company, using computer forensics and network analysis tools from McCann Investigations DFW.

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