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Rich Stewart
01-13-2008, 1:49 AM
I am curious about servers. I work nights and I use the company computer and I am wondering how much the bosses are able to see. If I am on Instant Messenging, can they read the entire conversation? Or can they just see that I was on it. When I am posting on SMC can they read exactly what I wrote or do they just see that I was on it? If I write an Email to my mom, can they read the entire Email or just see that I sent one? If I am looking at youtube, can they see which videos I was looking at or do they just know I was on it?

Thanks,

Rich

Mike Henderson
01-13-2008, 2:00 AM
A lot of that stuff is just IP traffic that they can monitor if they want to. The e-mail goes through the company mail server and they can legally read all of it - you do not have any privacy rights when using company computers and network equipment.

If they want to, they can put software on your computer that monitors your keystrokes and watches everything you do. Some of the software allows the manager to see in real time what you're doing on the computer.

So my advice is: When using company computers and network equipment, don't do anything that you wouldn't want to stand up and defend in the full light of day. Especially don't visit any porn sites or make disparaging comments about the management.

Mike

Pat Germain
01-13-2008, 2:22 AM
Most companies run software which tracks every web site accessed by anyone on the local network. The software will automatically "flag" questionable web sites and well as report on excessive use/abuse.

In order to see the text of an ongoing Instant Message session, someone would have to be actively monitoring the network and watching the traffic or capturing it to a file for later review.

However, just about everything you do on a PC is recorded to a file somewhere on the hard drive. Unless you take great pains to clear these files, anyone with Administrator priviledges can pull up files (history and cache files) which list web sites you accessed, online videos you watched, and yes, texting sessions.

AOL programs especially are notorious for writing files all over the place. I don't know how far back they go by default, but every word you type in a IM session is logged to a file and can be easily retrieved later. Yes, in this case, Big Brother is watching or can go back and watch later.

Jim Becker
01-13-2008, 10:35 AM
Your company "could" monitor every keystroke you make if they want to. A few do go that far, but on average, not. Many companies employ technology, such as that from BlueCoat (formerly CacheFlow) to control what you can access. This is the reason that some folks can access SMC from work, but can't view the images, etc. My employer doesn't allow streaming video and definitely filters for inappropriate material as evidenced by the warning screen that gets thrown up if someone inadvertently types in a misspelled URL, etc.

There are also retention rules that many companies need to follow that affect certain types of communication, such as email and IM. This is one of the reasons that some companies do not combine their voice mail and email on the same storage, for example, as the rules for email are stricter on retention.

But back to your question...read my first sentence!

David G Baker
01-13-2008, 10:56 AM
Rich,
You need to know your company policy when it comes to using company computers for personal use. Some companies have zero tolerance on using their computers for personal use. Many companies do have keystroke software and will use it against an employee as reason for dismissal.
Better idea is to get yourself a laptop, bring it to work and use the companies phone lines for a local dial up ISP. Make sure that the company has unlimited local phone service or the company could get a bill for hours of local phone usage.

Tim Dorcas
01-13-2008, 11:35 AM
I am a systems administrator. I have access to everything - e-mail, computer files, ect. And I can see everything that you do on the network. That said I don't care what you do within the guidelines that the business tells me about or that doesn't impact the infrastructure that I support.

Your best bet is to make the assumption they can see what you doing and act accordingly. While I am often too busy to really care if someone is using instant messaging or surfing non business related sites, I will do it when management tells me to do so.

YMMV
Tim

Rob Bodenschatz
01-13-2008, 12:14 PM
Rich, all of the replies are accurate but I'll add this: everyone in the world can read exactly what you wrote here on SMC. Doesn't take any special software to see that. I know that may seem obvious but I'm sure some people forget. That's why I cringe when I see someone discussing whether or not they should quit their job or leave their wife on these boards. Not a good idea.

Mike Hood
01-13-2008, 12:15 PM
Better idea is to get yourself a laptop, bring it to work and use the companies phone lines for a local dial up ISP. Make sure that the company has unlimited local phone service or the company could get a bill for hours of local phone usage.

That'll get ya fired at Boeing. :(

Most companies don't allow personal computers on the premises. Boeing will allow personal use of the Internet, but you have to realize that most companies record and spool everything to storage media. It's very inexpensive and law suits and corporate espionage are bigger than ever. I wouldn't wanna be doing anything illegal on a company computer... but most companies have a pretty liberal Internet useage policy.

Rich Stewart
01-13-2008, 7:27 PM
Thanks for all your input. I have always acted as if they could see everything i do on their computers and acted accordingly. Just wondering how much they actually COULD see. Small company and I don't think they are THAT interested as long as nothing illegal goes on.

Rick Gibson
01-13-2008, 11:42 PM
They can and some do have people sitting there reading everything and checking every site accessed. Depends on how paranoid your bosses are and how much they do or do not trust their employees. I know a few years before I retired I was working for Ontario Power Generation in one of their nuclear plants. A friend had just been on a mission trip to Thailand and I set up a photo site for him on my personal web site (I did it from home) so people who supported him could see photos of the trip. He did not have internet access at home and he stopped in during lunch hour one day and I spent about 5 - 10 minutes showing him the site. A couple weeks later I went back to show someone else and the site was blocked.

Basically it came down to I was on my lunch hour so I wasn't stealing time from the company but I was using company computers for something that was not company business so they blocked it, which is their right. A few weeks before I retired because of abuse they shut down internet access for everyone in the company. To get it back you had to apply on a case by case basis. I needed it but with only a couple weeks left I didn't bother applying, some of my work got left over for the guy taking over.:D

As Mike said you have no privacy when using company computers for anything.

Randal Stevenson
01-14-2008, 2:26 AM
I looked at a Proxy server a couple of years back, that I would love to remember it's name. It took all the pages that were requested (websites), and published them to an intranet page, and kept count of numbers of times accessed.

While not a keystoke logger, etc, it made everyone QUITE aware, of what they were doing.

Scott Shepherd
01-14-2008, 2:50 PM
I had a funny story at a company I worked at. They had an engineer they didn't like for some reason. Personality, I guess, but that guy crossed every "T" and dotted every "I". He was an excellent engineer. The Director of Engineering came in and wanted to find a way to get rid of the guy. So they had a great idea to look at his internet use and see what he was doing.

He was going to job search sites at lunch time (on his lunch break). Also at lunch, he'd visit a number of sites, all good sites. Nothing wrong with the sites he visited. But they decided to fire him over it. I was working with the IT guys when the logs were pulled up and I did the analysis. Senior Management came barreling in and had big smiles on their faces because they were finally going to get rid of this guy.

I asked what the criteria was for what they wanted and they told me the number of sites visited and the length he was on those sites. Cool, got it.

They are sitting there when I finish up and hand them his numbers. They gather around looking at the numbers, outraged for the number of sites visited (wasn't that much), and the length he was actively connected to the internet. So they talk about the plan and who's going to go get him, and where they will tell him he's fired at, and I said "Well, you can't fire him Mr. Director of Engineering (not his real name :) ). He said "Sure I can, and I'm going to". I said "No, you can't fire him, because you'll be losing your job today as well".

He looked at me like I had lost my mind (he was way above me on the chain of command). I pulled out the log and found that he was online and had more hits and time logged than anyone in the building. He explained it was because he was listening to the radio on the internet, and that it was constantly serving up ads, which all got logged as a hit. Didn't matter.

They all had sad looks on their faces as we pulled the logs on all their top employees that they didn't have beefs with.

They were unable to fire him for that.

Cracked me up.

Rich Stewart
01-15-2008, 1:10 PM
So, these keystroke loggers...Does that mean they can tell all your passwords for your banking, email and the like?

Scott Shepherd
01-15-2008, 1:38 PM
So, these keystroke loggers...Does that mean they can tell all your passwords for your banking, email and the like?

Yup, that's exactly what it means. When you are on their computers, NOTHING is private. Keyloggers are quite rare in corporate enviroments unless there is a problem. Most IT people would rather not spend their days deciphering the logs and telling on people.