Better pre-employment screening and background checks are needed in the wake of terrorist threats inside the U.S., security and employment consultants warn.
Employment experts say they are seeing a virtual epidemic in the tech industry of phony credentials and false or "inflated" résumés among the thousands of tech workers seeking new jobs.
Among the challenges that I-managers face is securing reliable background information, especially on prospective hires who are part the recent influx of foreign tech workers.
"In our pre-employment screening, we eventually reject 8 out of 10 applicants, for one reason or another," said Steven Morgan, president and CEO of SalesRecruits.com, which screens high-level salespeople for technology companies. "Exaggerated résumés are rampant."
Kessler International, a top international security and investigations firm, found more than 25 percent of 1,000 résumés it checked in a survey for technology companies two years ago contained phony information or false credentials. Michael G. Kessler, company president and CEO, believes the situation has changed little.
"Use of phony credentials obtained through the Internet is widespread," he said. "And when it comes to background checks on foreign workers - trying to prove people are who they say they are - it is very difficult."
Under heavy lobbying from the tech industry, Congress opened the doors to foreign workers last fall by relaxing HB-1 visa restrictions for skilled IT workers. The irony of that has not been lost on security personnel faced with determining who should get access to sensitive corporate information systems.
The prevalence of access to phony credentials over the Internet - from state drivers licenses and ID cards to academic certificates and documents used to falsify employment history - complicate the issue.
"Who are you going to give the keys to the kingdom to?" asked Winn Schwartau, author of several books on information warfare and president of Interpact, an information security company.
"Security is a triad of components," he said. "You have firewalls, you have locks and keys for the back hall . . . and third, and maybe most important, you have people. Most executives dont realize that the people who have the greatest access to their facilities are also the lowest-paid - your cleaning staff and your security guards."