Saturday, October 2, 2010

can you trust your IT guy (or gal)?

I guess that is a bit of a funny question to be asked by an IT person but i'm not completely sure most users out there have any idea just how easily any, or all, of their information (and the company's info for that matter) is readily available to members of most IT departments. People at the company that i work for occasionally make a joke over lunch about how the ITG can read their emails but i don't think they realise just how often it happens.

Let me clarify here, i don't go reading people's email for no reason but some of the more interesting things i've ever had the pleasure to read were in other people's emails. To explain further, we have a system where by if an email is sent that contains words on a blacklist the email will not be delivered but will get dumped into a quarantine somewhere. Occasionally you get a request from a user asking why their email was quarantined (you could imagine how interesting the conversation is when you have to tell Beth her email was quarantined because she called her husband a fuckface ... it never ceases to amaze me that people don't realise this themselves!). I also sometimes just browse through the quarantine for fun, and there is lots of fun to be had. I often marvel at how many people don't mind pointing out in a company email to a co-worker or friend just how much they hate their job, boss or life in general.

Even though i don't go around reading your emails for shits and giggles trust me when i say that lots of IT people do, i have friends in the industry who love to point out over a beer the funny things that they've turned up. More worryingly is secret company information that can be uncovered, i had an IT worker point out the salaries of most of the managers in his company once. From what i could gather, he had looked it up just because he could.

Your IT guy will generally be able to look up any site you've visited on your work computer (whether you did that in the office or sitting at home using your own network connection), he'll have access to any file on your PC or network drive on your server. He'll have access to all your emails and more often than not your salary info... so i'll ask you again ... can you trust your IT guy?

My tips for you are:
  1. if you have sensitive info that you don't want anyone else to see, don't store it on your work computer. Use your gmail/yahoo/hotmail email address for your personal emails. These days with how long people stay in a job before moving on, why would you want to give out your new email address to everyone? surely your iphone beeps in your pocket every time someone sends an email to anyway? 
  2. Domestic arguments shouldn't take place over email full stop but if you must have a big back and forward "you make me sick, i don't know why i ever married you" over email: see tip 1.
  3. Make friends with the IT guy, he's a good person to  have onside (or i am anyway) they generally have a good idea about what's going on in a company. Information (through legit and non-legit channels) often makes its way to IT first, i know i've had many "off the record" information sharing conversation with my boss. Being friends with someone who has this info at hand can come in quite handy.
  4. It's never a good idea to put it down in writing anywhere how much you hate your boss, with the possible exception of your resignation letter.
  5. Don't piss off your IT guy (i'll be going into more detail about this, and the most common ways people get their IT department offside, in a latter post)
Most importantly i think management need to pay attention to this information when hiring IT staff, pick people that seem to have integrity,  responsibility and experience... not the cheapest joe off the street. Educate yourself on ways to limit IT's "access all areas" pass or in the very least ways you can put in IT checks, it's very possible but most managers just don't know about it. Who is going to tell them? the IT manager? ha, not bloody likely!

After all is said and done though, the answer is 'you can trust me', i promise, take my word for it.

Cheers, ITG


  1. how do you sleep at night?

  2. Probly with all the money that he makes out of blackmail :P