“Simulation of keyboard activity” leads to firing of Wells Fargo employees

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“Simulation of keyboard activity” leads to firing of Wells Fargo employees


Last month, Wells Fargo terminated over a dozen bank employees following an investigation into claims of faking work activity on their computers, according to a Bloomberg report.

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) search conducted by Ars confirmed that the fired members of the firm’s wealth and investment management division were “discharged after review of allegations involving simulation of keyboard activity creating impression of active work.”

A screenshot of a FINRA report showing that an employee was
Enlarge / A screenshot of a FINRA report showing that an employee was “Discharged after review of allegations involving simulation of keyboard activity creating impression of active work.”

Jon Brodkin / Ars Technica

A rise in remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote worker surveillance techniques, especially those using software installed on machines that keeps track of activity and reports back to corporate management. It’s worth noting that the Bloomberg report says the FINRA filing does not specify whether the fired Wells Fargo employees were simulating activity at home or in an office.

The financial sector was among the first to call for a return to office work as the pandemic waned, with Wells Fargo adopting a “hybrid flexible model” in February 2022. Currently, most Wells Fargo employees are expected to work from the office at least three days a week, while members of the management committee are required to be present four days a week.

A spokesperson for Wells Fargo told Bloomberg, “Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards and does not tolerate unethical behavior.”

The filings did not include official word on what the Wells Fargo employees were doing while simulating keyboard activity.

Various techniques for faking inputs

We do not know exactly what technique(s) the fired employees used to simulate keyboard activity, but several options exist for would-be work-shirkers. Those options include software that simulates keyboard presses (like AutoHotkey) and physical devices sold on Amazon for around $30$60 that use a motor or solenoid and a small arm to push a real keyboard at random intervals, such as the one seen in the YouTube video below:

My favorite video

To counter corporate surveillance or merely assist with preventing a computer from going to sleep, Amazon also sells devices designed to mimic mouse movement, commonly known as “mouse jigglers.”

Some of the devices simulate a mouse electronically through a USB port, while others allow a user to place a real mouse on top of a spinning dial that triggers mouse movement using the sensor on the bottom of the mouse.



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