A Scientist's Life in Eve

The tale of the corporate thief

by on May.06, 2013, under Eve online

First, if you have never seen the Eve: Causality trailer, or can’t remember it, or just want to watch it again – click here to watch

At 2 minutes in, the only realy relevant bit takes place – the corp theft.

A couple of months ago, the Corp suffered it’s first major theft.  The thief was a Director who, probably inspired by that Eve trailer and imagining his moment of glory, drained the wallets and moved all unlocked Corp assets into his own hanger.  He then sent a mail to the Corp telling us what he had done, and claimed that it would result in the break up of the Corp, which was what we all needed anyway.

How did it happen? I’m not completely sure to be honest.  In the past, this particular person had been very much against anybody who had tried to infiltrate our corp, and (like the pilot in the Eve trailer) had behaved with honour and had put in considerable work for the corp.  However, there were signs of discontent which we didn’t pick up on and respond to, perhaps because of the person’s past efforts with the corp.  For example, he had alternate characters in Red vs Blue, and was increasingly not being involved with any corp activities, spending all of his game time in RvB combat.

How bad was the corp theft.  Well, it was very significant, with assets and liquid ISK taken easily valued in the 10′s of billions of ISK.  Fortunately for us, we did have some controls in place.  We operate a “bank” corporation.  The identity of this corp is only known to four people in the corp, myself included.  It’s sole function is to hold large sums of liquid ISK for the corp, and to conduct all the selling and purchasing of goods in Jita, both on the market and via contracts.  If you research well enough, you can see what a corp is involved in from it’s purchases, sales and contracts.  It’s no mean feat to do so, but it is possible.  Therefore the bank corp was created to mask this.  Similarly, we have multiple alts in NPC corps who transport goods for us to and from Jita to our staging points, which again masks the corp and also protects us from war decs – it’s a very common thing to do and I would say that most reasonable sized corps will probably operate logistics in this way, although the bank corp is an additional layer of paranoia I will admit!

Liquid ISK was one thing – unfortunately we had a reasonably large (for us) amount of liquid ISK in the corp wallets at the time of the theft.  Also, and perhaps this is the most inexcusable part of the whole thing, we had neglected to lock down a number of blueprints (including most of our capital construction part blueprints and also some of the actual capital ship blueprints).  The reason for this initially was that we wanted to be able to move them quickly should our Outpost be sieged.  Also, the blueprints could only be accessed by Directors, and we trusted all of them of course.  The last reason was, really, that we were just too lazy to lock them down in a null sec Outpost, as there were lots of blueprints aside from the capital ones, probably well over 100, and the process of locking blueprints down is, as usualy with CCP and an industry feature, stupidly slow.  First you have to propose a lock down vote individually for each blueprint.  Then the CEO (assuming he has the shares) has to approve the vote.  Then you have to action the approved vote the next day when it appears in sanctionable actions.  Therefore each of the 100 blueprints has to have three things done to it to lock it down.  Due to the number involved, we just left it.

So, stupiditiy on our part for not at least locking down the most important blueprints and for not keeping the liquid ISK in the Corp wallets at a reasonably low level.

What have we learnt from this that I could share with you all to help prevent or mitigate a similar corp theft?  It’s difficult, because in Eve the only person you can trust pretty much is yourself and nobody else.  I know it’s a sad fact, but it’s quite often proved true.  So what are my top tips?  Here we go… they are by no means exhaustive and I’m sure many of you will disagree with some of them too:

1. Corporate Roles
Set up your Corporate roles so that people only have access to what they need to have, and nothing else whatsoever, not even “view only” rights.  If all they can see is the general tab where other corp members drop junk and salvaged modules in, then that’s all they can steal.  If a player is to be involved in production, make sure that you set up a wallet division just for player production which has as little ISK in as possible.  Also, if they are involved in production, write to CCP and complain about the useless “on or off” corporate roles setting for production.  To let somebody do production, you have to give them the rights to be able to cancel any job in production, not just their own – that’s dangerous.

2. Directors
Consider who really needs to be a Director, as that gives great power.  If you get this wrong, then a Corp theft is always likely to be more damaging to you, so there’s not a lot I can do to help here, although the next point should help

3. Inactivity / behaviour
If somebody becomes inactive for a period, take that person’s roles away immediately.  When / if they come back, they can ask for them back and earn them back if necessary.  For behaviour, if they are backing away from a particular area, or in our thief’s case spending more of their time elsewhere, remove roles as appropriate – certainly if they’re a Director, strip that role immediately.  If they want to be a Director of the Corp again, then they need to want to be in the Corp and with the Corp

4. Blueprints and other assets
The only option here really is to lock the blueprints down, even though it will make you want to quit Eve after the 50th blueprint.  For an industrial Corp blueprints are your life, and for us a lot of that was ripped away from us because we hated the interface so much we neglected to do it.  As for other assets, you can only try to limit what you store where.  For us, we had Corp freighters that were stored in the admin tab that were used by a number of Directors for various activities – they were stolen.  Also, you can’t do much about things like minerals and other building components, as you will have stocks of those as necessary for your building activities, so if you’re building things like capital ships, then you’ll probably have significant quantities of minerals which could be stolen

So how have we coped since the theft?  Did we die and split up as the thief intended?  Not really.  Instead we’ve moved regions and are now renting under a new landlord.  The theft has really hurt as we now have to rebuild our ISK working capital and also replace the blueprints that were stolen, which easily come to 20 billion ISK in value.  We are, however, recovering… albeit slowly.

One little trick is that I had stored away a number of things in my own hanger at our hi sec manufacturing base.  Not corp theft on my part I hasten to add!  However, these were things that were work in progress, for example invented T2 blue print copies, 1000′s of T1 blue print copies ready for invention, duplicate blue print originals  of some ships.  All of these have helped in a little way, although the biggest help was a T2 project I had on hold, as it only needed around 3 billion ISK worth of minerals to let me finish off and produce 10 billion ISK of modules, something that ironically finishes the last bit of production now, and completes the injection of 7 billion ISK into the corp.

Unlike the Eve: Causality trailer, I don’t believe that we did anything to offend the individual to cause them to want to enact revent upon us.  They certainly did drain our wallets and steal lots of T1 and T2 blueprints (not T2 originals I hasten to add – we’ve never owned one) and also all the assets they could get their hands on.  Also unlike the trailer, it hasn’t resulted in the Corp’s destruction.  It certainly did hit morale because of the nature of the theft, but things are continuing and rebuilding.

You probably can’t completely trust anybody in Eve except for yourself, and in the case of the Corp thief, based on what he has said previously, sometimes you possibly can’t even trust yourself. Onwards and upwards!