The Grinding Shed: Workplace Spying - The Grinding Shed

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Workplace Spying

#1 User is offline   HockeyGod Icon

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 09:55 PM

I need some advice.

Today I noticed my computer was running slower than usual, so i hit alt ctrl del and noticed something using a lot of memory that I hadn't noticed before...

swsys.exe

a little bit of research showed that this is a keylogger, screen capture, website logging program used by companies to monitor their employee's internet usage.

Seeing my boss outside of his office I did a quick netstat and saw his computer connected to mine.

I uninstalled the program leaving it so the last screen capture of mine he'd see when going back into his office would be one of me opening spybot search and destroy... so he may or may not know i found and removed it.

As luck would have it, I sit next to a guy who just got a brand new computer - so I know he doesn't have spyware.

sure enough, it was installed on his computer too.

what would you do? Obviously they have the right to do this, but since it was never mentioned to me, it sends a strong message that they don't trust their employees.

My quarterly review just happens to be tomorrow too.

what would you do in this situation? I need some advice.
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#2 User is offline   The_Roach Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 12:23 AM

Stop watching pornography at work.

I don't have enough specifics to give you any real advice on the matter. I've had employers that would have had no trouble at all with me saying, "Hey, I saw this. What the fuck?" So, in that situation, I'd have probably said just that to them. I've seen the completely unapproachable boss too. He decided I wasn't an asset after I refused to perpetrate a fraud on his behalf.

Do you like your job? Do you need your job? Do you feel your privacy is being violated in some way? Does having your employer trust you in a culture where many companies can attribute staggering losses to employee theft mean a lot to you? I guess these are the questions to which I would need answers in order to provide useful advice. And if you know the answers to those, you probably don't need my help.
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#3 User is offline   Reliquiae Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 12:31 AM

I guess if you are doing your job, and following the rules then what is on that PC shouldn't bother you.

As an employer, they have to cover their asses in all aspects. As an employee, if I'm doing everything I'm supposed to, then there is nothing to worry about.

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#4 User is offline   HockeyGod Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 12:41 AM

Yes i'm not doing anything illegal.. but that's not the point.

Just like i'm not plotting terrorists acts on my cell phone... but i still wouldn't like it if george bush listened in.

I do things at work that most people do that aren't my boss's business.

I log into my bank account on paydays to make sure my direct deposit went through. My account balance and pin # (it's a keylogger) aren't information I wanted to share.

we use MSN at work, the other people on my buddy list aren't information I want to share with my boss either. Even if i'm not talking to them.

If i send an email to his boss, or the HR representative... it's not of his business

Yes I like my job, but I also have a high code of ethics. This, I don't agree with. It's even worse that he has to lie about it. When I was hired I asked if they do this and my boss said "I wouldn't know.. I don't do it" .. yet today I see his computer connected on that port.
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#5 User is offline   Reliquiae Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 02:39 AM

Are you supposed to be using a work computer for personal business like that to begin with?

Because if you aren't, then you were the one to expose yourself like that to begin with.
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#6 User is offline   shaggy Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 03:41 AM

I think his point is mainly that nobody told him that he would be exposing his information, and he specifically asked if any information would be exposed. I doubt he would have had a problem with it if they would have been up front and just said, "we have keyloggers and such to monitor employee activity". At least then he would have known what to expect.

Then again, I'm assuming a lot. Is that about right, monsieur hockey god? I'm assuming its the case, because I'd be pretty pissed off if I specifically asked and was told no information would be logged. It isn't about what you should and shouldn't be doing on a work computer, its what you reasonably assume you can do without putting yourself at risk. Let's face it, everyone in a techie job cheats a bit on what they can do while on the comps... or visits pages when on break. At least if I'm told that everything I do while on break is being monitored, I can make sure I avoid the sheep porn and certain pen sales sites. But if I specifically ask, "look, if I'm on break do you log my activity?" and am told no... I'll be pissed if it is ever used against me, and logging keys without warning to me is using that against me.

Whether or not there is anything that can be done... the "verbal contract" was pretty shaky... it was enough to assume no keylogging was done, but I'd dig up the old initial contract and see if it mentions any sort of employee monitoring. Even if it does, you want to make sure the wording is specific.

That's what I'd do anyway. Then again I'm an asshole when it comes to principle. And I think that's fucking "principle" up the ass, if you ask me.
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#7 User is offline   Mr_Fred_Smith Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 05:57 AM

All our computers are monitored at work, but I work for the Council, so they're very open about it. I was actually present when the techs came to search through his computer on account of some porn they'd apparently found (he'd simply opened an attachment from one of his friends, I heard). He resigned in the end. Then again, security is very much more important where I work anyway, for obvious reasons - after five years I've heard numerous stories of staff being escorted from the premises by Security.
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#8 User is offline   cyprusudo Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:28 PM

First things first. I've never heard of a key logger that was accesible from a network. Usually, the logs are sent as email to a remote account. I've also never heard of a keylogger that left an .exe file in running applications lists. The whole point of a keylogger is stealthieness (Take that Stephen Colbert).

Second. If it is that obvious a keylogger is being used, Why not disable it? I'm guessing that you are running xp pro? Do you have full privledges as a root user? If so, set your firewall permissions to deny local network access or even better, Deny your bosses ip exclusively. Follow that with a few concentrated google searches in the nature of 'Pictures of my boss and his secretary at a motel', or 'I caught my boss looking at kiddie porn'. Whether there is proof of this or not, That's the kinda thing a boss would not want to use as evidence to have you dismissed.

Third. Install or activate a network monitor that will log connections to your computer. Most can be set up to log ip's, times, and files accessed. That will pinpoint exactly where the files you need to deny permissions are located. Have fun with it. Write you own 'logs'. Give your boss the cleanest, busiest logs he's ever seen!

http://www.spywarere...ityMonitor.html

This post has been edited by cyprusudo: 07 April 2007 - 01:33 PM

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#9 User is offline   cyprusudo Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 01:51 PM

Afterthought...

Most of the major linux distributions offer a 'live cd'. Basically, A live cd will boot into linux and run most applications regardless of what's on the harddrive. It would be safe enough to use for your banking/porn oogling and would be un-traceable.

Afterthought II...

I'm surprised they actually installed garbage on your computer when they could easily have installed it on the server and you would have never known!

This post has been edited by cyprusudo: 07 April 2007 - 10:38 PM

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#10 User is offline   pH5.5 Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 04:30 PM

View PostHockeyGod, on Apr 6 2007, 11:41 PM, said:

Obviously they have the right to do this

this, along with the answers given by other grinders, pretty much hits the nail on the head.
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#11 User is offline   HockeyGod Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 07:49 PM

It kind of scares me how many people here take no issue with this.

I mean sure it's legal, but that doesn't make it ethical.

The problem is they shouldn't have to... regardless of whether or not I'm doing anything wrong (i'm not).

that's like saying "i'm not doing anything illegal, so I don't mind if the police search my house every week and look at my computer."

It's even worse to think how much more productive my boss could be if he wasn't spending his time watching all of our computer screens.
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#12 User is offline   HockeyGod Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 07:49 PM

FYI, I've already replaced the program with notepad (renamed to it's name), and set up some policies so that it can't be re-installed.
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#13 User is offline   pH5.5 Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 08:00 PM

but HG, you are doing stuff wrong - you're using your employer's resources to check your bank account etc. it's tantamount to theft on some levels.
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#14 User is offline   Mr_Fred_Smith Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 08:07 PM

I'm not sure about unethical, but it's poor man-management because it invariably lowers morale. I don't think you can call use of company technology theft as such, either - by the same token they're stealing from you if you take work home unpaid, which of course many people do. I can't say I'm too worried about it - I work in a place where there are cameras everywhere, but not necessarily people behind them...
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#15 User is offline   The_Roach Icon

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 08:17 PM

View PostHockeyGod, on Apr 7 2007, 01:35 PM, said:

that's like saying "i'm not doing anything illegal, so I don't mind if the police search my house every week and look at my computer."


No, it's not like saying that at all.

There's a difference between the state monitoring your private life and what you are describing. This is a private organization that you work for, who is giving you monetary compensation for your services. You are an asset to your company. You essentially have no rights within the confines of the corporation, provided that they have not violated worker's rights laws. Any company that is profit-focused behooves themselves to monitor their assets and ensure that they are producing at a level consistent with the expense of using them.

Could your superior's time be better spent doing things other than keeping an eye on you? That's arguable. The primary purpose of management is to supervise employees, to watch their progress and organize them so that goals are met. Will your newfound knowledge affect your output and efficiency? Obviously, it already has since you have spent company time considering the implications of the keylogger and circumventing it. The likelihood of a continued waste of resources depends on how your newfound distrust of your company will affect your morale. But it does not change the fact that in utilizing the keylogger in the first place, your boss was actually just doing their job. I don't necessarily agree with the practice, as I've found that providing positive reinforcement techniques are more effective in the long run than micro-managing in such a way. But I don't think it's wrong.
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