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The trouble with trying to save a few bob*

While the state of Icelandic newspapers has been pretty dismal of late, one paper has been showing some maverick moves – the notorious DV, which traditionally has been the closest thing Iceland has to a tabloid.

DV has been delivering up all sorts of scoops, like details of Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen’s finances and stuff about some of the útrásarvíkingar** deemed highly confidential – and had been gaining increasing respect as a result.

It now transpires that DV is likely to have paid for data stolen from a legal firm here in the city. The culprit – who has now been charged – is a 17-year old guy who was in charge of setting up the firm’s computer network.

[And lest you think we have a case of whiz-like computer hacking à la Lisbeth Salander, think again: this was just a regular old break-in.]

Obviously DV is refusing to name its sources, but many others are pondering this: why did a legal firm that counted some of Iceland’s major tycoons among its clients entrust the set-up of its computer network to an underage kid with no real credentials?

Discuss.

* there is random speculation that they just got someone’s cousin to set it up for them in an effort to save a few crowns.

** útrásarvíkingar – Icelandic tycoons that went abroad and bought up everything in sight thereby assisting in bankrupting the country.

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  • Tom Harper February 3, 2010, 2:23 pm

    Isn’t that sort of how things are done in Iceland? It seems that people don’t stand on titles, officialness, and the like. They probably found some kid that knew enough to do the job (probably decently) and paid him a lot less than having a “pro” (who, in the US and UK, at least, often know less than a 17-year-old computer nerd) do it. Combine that with Iceland’s whole “it seems everyone is related” sitch, and you find someone with a young computer whiz nephew/cousin to solve your problem for cheap! Sorted!

    For a lot of small companies, it wouldn’t be that unusual. I am not sure it’s a *good* idea, but I did it. I did office IT for a small real estate company (whom my father was a partner in, so check out non-Icelandic nepotism there!) when I was 14-18, and everyone certainly praised my work (at least to my face). Seems to me this is a case of following a common practice, even though it’s not necessarily a good one, especially for a law firm 😉

  • Goupil February 3, 2010, 3:48 pm

    Beware of a ploy by cunning lawers to get their clients of the hook.
    I mean Is it legal to use in a court of law documents or data which have been acquired illegally?
    We get this problem in France where listing of clients in offshore accounts can’t be used for prosecution . The battle is ongoing
    Cheers

  • wally February 3, 2010, 4:06 pm

    I think the only questionable thing about this is that the law firm is off course responsible for sensitive information. As such the clients have a right to expect that it be kept confidential. It would have all been allright had the firm insisted the seventeen year old signed a confidentiality agreement, in his parents presence of course. That is the very least they should have done.
    They really should have got a professional firm to do though. With big clients like theirs they could certainly have afforded it and it would have been the professional thing to do.

  • Andrew (the other one) February 3, 2010, 6:28 pm

    If I was a client at the law firm I would be moving my account. The firm is responsible for maintaining confidentiality. They should be reported for gross professional misconduct!

    By the way Alda, I hadn’t heard the phrase “save a few bob” for a long time. My compliments on your use of colloquial British English.
    (if you are confused, The British currency used to be pounds, shilling and pence. A “bob” was a colloquial phrase for a shilling).

    Now if we could just persuade our governments to save a few bob and get Icesave sorted out quickly without having to have referenda, lots of legal fees and the like, we would all be a lot happier .

  • sylvia hikins February 3, 2010, 7:25 pm

    So what’s wrong with the skills of a a 17 year old lad? When I want anything set up on my computer, or advice to solve glitches/viruses etc, I always turn to my youngest grandchild, a wee lad of 9 who has great difficulty saying hi to me on the phone, but can do anything with a computer, including making it speak!!!
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • James February 3, 2010, 8:08 pm

    “why did a legal firm that counted some of Iceland’s major tycoons among its clients entrust the set-up of its computer network to an underage kid with no real credentials?”

    Isn’t there an online database with all Icelandic relations recorded (something like book of Iceland), so someone could join the kid’s name with a list of the law firm’s employees to see which relation is closest…

    “They should be reported for gross professional misconduct!”

    Well, it’s clearly worse than mere carelessness, so a civil negligence claim could be coming their way. Maybe even some criminal negligence charges, but that would be ironic when their (criminal) útrásarvíkingar clients haven’t even been charged yet…

  • BRADSTREET February 3, 2010, 10:56 pm

    It is sad but true that 17 year olds are often at the cutting edge of computing. Unfortunately they are often indistinguishable from absolutely clueless 17 year olds who just want to make a bean by selling stuff to the newspapers…

  • Jim February 4, 2010, 1:47 pm

    love to know which law firm. Was it Logos?

  • alda February 4, 2010, 1:59 pm

    Amazingly it was not Logos! It’s called Milestone.

  • Hanne February 4, 2010, 2:07 pm

    Must have been someone’s son/cousin/friend. That’s how things work around here.

  • James February 4, 2010, 3:23 pm

    “details of Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen’s finances”

    …not as juicy as today’s revelations of Gudjohnsen’s affair with the woman who had an affair with 7 different Chelsea players. 7!