A breach from within: Why JPMorgan fired lead security staffer

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The revelation is five years after the fact, but it's an attention-getter nonetheless.

JPMorgan Chase in 2013 fired an executive in charge of forensics investigations, Peter Cavicchia, for snooping on top executives at the company, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

The story, published Thursday, comes amid broader concerns in banking and elsewhere about data privacy and the responsibility companies have to safeguard personal data.

Cavicchia, a former Secret Service agent, oversaw the use of data analytics to spot signs of misbehavior among JPMorgan employees. Cavicchia led a team of 120 engineers from Palantir, the data mining company founded by the entrepreneur Peter Thiel that got its start helping the federal government with counterintelligence. The two companies formed a partnership in 2009, marking Palantir’s foray into the financial services industry.

Through an analytics program called Metropolis, Cavicchia's group collected a slew of employee data, including emails, GPS locations from company smartphones and printer activity. An algorithm helped the bank spot red flags in employee behavior or misuse of company property.

In the process, Cavicchia gained “unprecedented access” to a range of corporate security databases, which had previously required separate authorizations, according to the story.

JPMorgan executives grew suspicious of Cavicchia in 2013, during an internal probe into information leaked to The New York Times about a federal investigation into the company for manipulating U.S. electricity markets. According to the report, JPMorgan had evidence that the leaker may have been former Chief Operating Officer Frank Bisignano, who resigned the same year to become CEO of First Data.

Cavicchia used the Metropolis platform to access emails related to the internal probe — some of which were from top executives, according to the report. JPMorgan believed Cavicchia shared the contents of those emails with Bisignano after he left to join First Data.

Though JPMorgan considered filing a suspicious activity report about the incident, the company ultimately decided against it — a decision that was controversial among senior executives, according to Bloomberg.

Cavicchia negotiated a severance package and was forced to resign. He is one of a handful of executives who followed Bisignano to First Data from JPMorgan.

JPMorgan declined to comment on the report. First Data did not respond to a request for comment.

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Data security JPMorgan Chase First Data