Imitation, Flattery, and Unfortunate Plagiarism in the Information Security Industry

This issue was resolved in record time, thank you to Michelle Gorel from AVNET Corp. Communications for making things right in absolutely record-time, on a Saturday night.  I can only wish everyone who struggles with plagiarism the same type of experience as I had.  Read the last update at the end.

 

It's been said before that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

 

  Then why do I feel so violated, after finding out that Bennett Bayer (otherwise known as @MobilityPath) of AVNET Technology Solutions has blatantly stolen (at least one) blog post I've written here on Following the Wh1t3 Rabbit and posted it on his company's blog as if he wrote it?

 

  A few colleagues alerted me of the fact that my blog, amonst claims of many others, was directly copied without attribution.  I'm a big proponent of fair use - but in information security we've had a major problem lately with people stealing content and calling it their own - this is yet another example.

 

  Let me point you to a blog post I put up on October 3rd, 2011 about the difficulties of measuring IT Security performance (here: http://h30499.www3.hp.com/t5/Following-the-White-Rabbit-A/The-Difficulty-of-Measuring-the-Performanc...) and you can compare that with Bennett's blog post on October 8th, 2011 ...(right here: http://blogging.avnet.com/ts/advantage/2011/10/measuring-the-performance-of-information-security/ ).

 

  Notice anything?

 

Busted, Bennett, stealing content.  You should be ashamed of yourself.

 

  This wouldn't be so bad if he had said something like "Original posted on Following the Wh1t3 Rabbit, an HP blog by Rafal Los, here <link>" ... but instead he decided to put his name on it as if he wrote the post, and put it on his company's blog.  I don't know about the place you folks work - but if I was stealing other company's content and calling it my own on my company's blog ...I'd likely face disciplinary action ...let's hope AVNET has a strict policy against intellectual property theft.

 

  So far, the AvnetComms Twitter account reached out to me to tell me they were investigating... Since they are a large professional organization I will give them the benefit of the doubt that the right people are being contacted, and the situation is being rectified as quickly as possible.  I will update this blog post as I hear back, or as the situation is resolved - however it comes to end.

 

 

 

Update:  1:41pm Central Time 12/3/2011

Apparently, the folks over at AVNET take this seriously, as Bennett's entire blog appears to be pulled.  Well done, however, I (and the rest of the security community) are still waiting for a formal acknowledgement of what happened, and what AVNET will do to prevent this in the future.

Bennett_Bayer_Blog_AVNET_GONE.jpg

 

 

 

Update: 6:15pm Central Time 12/3/2011

Bennett_Bayer_AVNET_GONE.jpg

 ...Apparently AVNET has removed Bennett Bayer completely from their blogging platform.  Long-overdue reforms, apparently.  I knew they would handle this swiftly, and appropriately.

  Well done, AVNET staff.

 

 I'm sure this is not yet the end of this saga... but we're well on our way to getting past this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update: 7:24pm Central Time 12/3/2011

  Simply, in a word - wow.  Michelle Gorel contacted me to let me know that the issue has been resolved.  I know some of you that I was speaking with on Twitter over this topic were saying not to hold my breath for an apology, full resolution - I'm really excited to report you were wrong.  I know that some of you struggle with having your hard work copied and someone else's name on it ...don't despair.  Report it, the community is behind you.

 

 

Update: 4:58pm Central Time 12/4/2011

  I just received an update and multiple confirmations of a public apology being posted on AVNET's landing page ( https://twitter.com/#!/MichelleGorel/status/143464306636365824 ) ...link here: http://blogging.avnet.com/ts/advantage/2011/12/avnet-advantage-blog-content-ownership/

 

 

 

  Every organization lets bloggers and their employees have a certain amount of freedom, I know I enjoy freedom from editorial review as well ...so when we report plagiarism (as blantant as it may sometimes be) it's really the response that matters most.  I don't know that I have heard of a faster, more sincere response than I've gotten from the folks over at AVNET.  It's clearly a world-class shop, with people like Michelle keeping everyone honest.  Thanks for making it right.

Labels: News
Comments
| ‎12-03-2011 02:03 PM

I would like to request that Avent publish a formal and public apology for this.  It is the only basic response that is required.  Legally, there may be more required - but at least for the public professionals, we need to see something stated publically to account for this behavior.

intNull0(anon) | ‎12-03-2011 06:16 PM
To plagiarize is bad but to be a 'security professional' and think this wouldn't be noticed is pathetic. The most observant, detail oriented people in the world read these blogs. Wow...
Mike Ahmadi(anon) | ‎12-04-2011 07:20 AM

Rafal, I am very glad to see they resolved this for you.  I ended up with a truly lame and horrible half-baked apology from Tim Fitzgerald.  I guess since I am not an Avnet partner I do not matter as much, and that is completely understood, even if it still leaves me feeling very violated.

Alan Rivaldo(anon) | ‎12-04-2011 03:11 PM

What is left unresolved is how much in ill-gotten gains Avnet has received by seeming to have a person on staff that is knowledgeable about cyber security, when in fact they have someone who has merely demonstrated a talent of changing an odd noun or two in articles that he had blatantly purloined. Pulling the blogs merely hides the violations, and apologizing doesn't provide any compensation beyond perhaps salving the original author’s feelings. Furthermore, how much was the thief personally compensated or otherwise rewarded for "writing" the blog?

 

What is really sad is that this person majored in communications at the University of Wisconsin and later got a Master’s at Oxford in marketing (with an emphasis in international law, no less)! Both programs undoubtedly require the ability to write, but if someone who had graduated then had to resort to lowly plagiarism in order to enhance his career, it really casts a good measure of doubt on the academic integrity of both universities.

 

Mike Ahmadi(anon) | ‎12-04-2011 05:41 PM
I got a personal call and apology. Thank you Avnet.
Mike Ahmadi(anon) | ‎12-04-2011 07:57 PM

Michelle Gorel called me and apologized personally.  I accept her apology, and thank her for doing so.

Anonymous(anon) | ‎12-07-2011 04:14 PM

I see in LinkedIn that the individual in question is no longer employed with AVNET.   An outcome that was unavoidable, as it open the company up to serious action.  

 

I went through something similar -- a product manager was supplying me with white papers ostensibly written by him -- that I then published (with permission) under the CTO's name.    Long story short, most works were plagarized.   

 

If it is a habit, chances are they've been doing it and getting away with it for years.    And it does reflect poorly on the academic background of the individual.

 

Happy it see it resolved quickly and appropriately.

Andersohn(anon) | ‎01-15-2012 11:32 PM

 If you do a search for this individual, there is a Classmates.com entry about Bennet Bayer stating he is a "liar, sociopath and fraud" who also targets women with concocted stories and identities. This is clearly a character issue or disorder that runs more deeply than just the workplace.

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