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1 In 3 Sysadmins Snoop On Colleagues

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the and-they-steal-chips-and-soda dept.

Security 392

klubar writes "According to a a recent survey, one in three IT staff snoops on colleagues. U.S. information security company Cyber-Ark surveyed 300 senior IT professionals, and found that one-third admitted to secretly snooping, while 47 percent said they had accessed information that was not relevant to their role. Makes you wonder about the other 2 out of 3. Did they lie on the survey or really don't snoop?"

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392 comments

No Ethics (5, Insightful)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860229)

It's a damned poor state of affairs that so many people put in that situation of trust betray it.

I've been a systems admin for the better part of a decade, and the only time I've ever accessed the company's assets are when it was warranted.

The same goes for user files. I'm not going to snoop through other people's files. Really, I don't care what boring files you keep, just that they don't fill up the partition they're sitting on.

Do that, and suffer my wrath.

Re:No Ethics (5, Funny)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860305)

the only time I've ever accessed the company's assets are when it was warranted.
I've looked through your log files, and I think you're lying.

Re:No Ethics (5, Insightful)

stableos (452115) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860947)

I can't manage my own workload well let alone having the time to snoop around everyone else's crap.

Re:No Ethics (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860991)

THIS! These people are obviously not busy enough, I have a multi-year backlog of backend projects let alone the stuff that the business adds on a quarterly basis.

Re:No Ethics (5, Insightful)

dtml-try MyNick (453562) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860373)

Humans are curious by nature.

If you forbid someone something and grant them acces to it 9 out of 10 people *will* take a look. Combine that with the powertrip most people get when put in a control position it get's to good to bet let alone.

For those reasons alone I never trust any sysadmin anywhere, period.

At work or anywhere else I simply asume some admin will read my email on a bored day and I simply asume he will browse through my files the other day.

Re:No Ethics (2)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860693)

Maybe I got snooping out of my system early enough, before I was an admin. I just don't even care what my users email about. I'm too busy actually fixing things to care, unless something breaks.

Like I said, the only time I care about content is when it's taking up too much space.

I did have a user's mail break once, because she kept receiving 20MB attachments and she didn't know how to delete it. There was a hard filesize limit of 2GB in the mail software. I cared a lot about that content...enough to tell her to delete it now.

Re:No Ethics (5, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860745)

Maybe I got snooping out of my system early enough, before I was an admin. I just don't even care what my users email about. I'm too busy actually fixing things to care, unless something breaks.

Maybe I got snooping out of my system early enough, before I was an admin. I just don't even care what my users email about. I'm too busy browsing /. to care, unless something breaks.

Fixed that for you ;) Not that I'm any better, mind you.... :P

Re:No Ethics (1)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | more than 5 years ago | (#23861149)

Easy - I don't care. If the employer wants to snoop and understands his legal rights and wants me to assist him, then I make sure that he signs an agreement that I was simply a tool and he had sole liability.

Re:No Ethics (0, Troll)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860391)

Really, I don't care what boring files you keep...
Just the interesting files :-) I only look at log files to keep an eye on the system or if a user tried to be "smart".

Re:No Ethics (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860707)

I've got my users scared :-D

They call me before they write so much as a shell script.

This has good and bad points.

Re:No Ethics (5, Insightful)

kc9fyx (1310661) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860547)

I have to agree with that. Sure, I could look at my user's files, but why would I want to? There's no doubt that I'd see things that no amount of eyebleach would fix. So long as nobody's filling up the server or causing me to get phone calls from network security, I'd rather not know what they're doing.

Re:No Ethics (5, Insightful)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860835)

It's not even the eyebleach that's required. It's that peeking through peoples' files will undoubtedly reveal something you shouldn't, aren't supposed to, or (in the case of purely personal information) don't want to know or have no need to know. And once you know it, you have a responsibility to safeguard it - moral, most importantly, but legal as well depending on its nature. Who wants to safeguard other peoples' personal information for no damn reason at all?

Re:No Ethics (4, Insightful)

scubamage (727538) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860629)

Ditto, I honestly could care less what files people keep. Have some mp3s? Fine. A few questionable video files? I still really don't care. Just don't be downloading malware or anything like that. Basically I figure I wouldn't want anyone accessing my files, so why would I want to access their files? Then again, I also despise knowing passwords because of liability because I genuinely don't ever like touching other people's accounts.

Re:No Ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23861031)

Unless you work in a regime where people are out to make you look bad, and yes there are those places. Then snooping can save your ass until you get a new job. Snooping also is an insight into how a person really could be. Cool Boss A could be throwing you under a bus along with your team. Then you wonder why you never get that raise or that new office chair.. ...all Im sayin is...it happens...

Scary (5, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860257)

I know a place where they have'nt changed the root/admin passwords in years. They have so many servers that it would be "a huge pain" (their words exactly) to change all the passwords. I wonder how much of a pain it would be for a former DBA or sysadmin to snoop around and start publicly posted how much everybody makes?

Re:Scary (3, Informative)

painehope (580569) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860595)

Someone needs to explain to them about using ssh-keygen to allow secure, password-less logins, and how write Expect scripts. That's how I handle changing the root passwords on the supercomputers that I manage (which undoubtedly have more nodes than that company has servers).

Re:Scary (4, Interesting)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860771)

Which really brings up another question to me.

Suppose you have a high level IT staff member quit.

You go through the normal password rotation, and call it a day, but they still had access to the private keys of every server. Do you generate all new keys for every server? How do you reconcile that with the authorized_keys and known_hosts files across the network? That's a large infrastructure change.

Are there SSH key servers that allow this?

Re:Scary (2, Informative)

painehope (580569) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860831)

Well, to be honest, it's never been an issue to me. Practice proper perimeter security and they'll never get in to the machines that they could damage.

Re:Scary (4, Informative)

prockcore (543967) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860855)

They don't have access to the private keys of every server. Their public key is in their home directory on every server.

You just delete their account, or their authorized_keys file.

Re:Scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860987)

Where I work we don't have keys for admin or system accounts, only users have keys (although some incompetent or lazy developers either refuse to use them or are to lazy to figure them out). When an admin leaves we change the admin passwords across all the systems and delete their account. That solves the key problem.

Although I'd love to see a key server like you mention. Especially if said key server could be used to manage private gpg keys. We have a crap load of automated jobs that use keys and there isn't an elegant solution to keep the private keys safe but allow automated jobs to access them. This became especially difficult when we started the effort to become PCI/CISP complaint. In that standard there's a requirement for two people to be required to access every key encryption key and those same two people can't have or know the data encryption key. This is very difficult to achieve for automated jobs and tricky to say the least for key rotations.

Re:Scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860827)

If it's like my company, which it sounds a lot like it, then they are mostly windows boxes. A lot of windows LAN apps and even some poorly designed web apps (which this is a case of) don't work unless something is logged in. Trust me I've wrote many emails about the using a common known admin password across many web servers and how open we are to attack, but like the OP they deem the risk to small to justify fixing the apps or keeping different passwords even. COM objects are the worse, in many cases you have to give then an identity to run as so they can access resources, or you have to leave the machines logged in. God I hate windows.

BTW posting anonymously to prevent any said attacks

Re:Scary (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 5 years ago | (#23861055)

have I worked with you? I was at a place where the root/admin passwords hadn't been changed in over 15 years. This was a Law enforcement agency too....I think they may have changed them by now...

And? (5, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860263)

Maybe I'm missing the point but I don't see where there is an issue.

In nearly all IT environments, either you trust your IT staff, or you have some killer PKI. Reality suggests management in the typical company wouldn't pay for or be bothered to use, so we're back to IT having super-snooping powers.

Re:And? (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860355)

But what if you trust your IT staff and they betray that trust? The only way a user would know they were snooped was to be technical enough to work in IT themselves. The IT folks would never do that to me...or would they?

Re:And? (5, Insightful)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860725)

How do I know that the monkeys in Personnel aren't firing up my salary details or absence reports for the hell of it? Techies too have to trust people who have access to information just like they have to trust us. If someone is found to be abusing the access and earning some gain, action will be taken I'm sure. But overall it has to work on trust, or we'd all be drowning in audit trails.

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860375)

In nearly all IT environments, either you trust your IT staff, or you have some killer PKI.
Right, and the story here is that many of those IT staff apparently betray that trust... I'm not sure I can say it any more simply than that. Do you still not understand?

Re:And? (2, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860421)

Maybe I'm missing the point but I don't see where there is an issue.

Because, some people aren't supposed to be seeing certain things. If you're charged with protecting everyone else's crap, it's nice to develop a bit of indifference to what's in it -- I'll guard it, but I won't look in it.

Think of it this way ... if your admin is reading your financials, they could be using it to do a little insider trading or taking the information for other purposes.

It really is a huge breach of trust for an admin to be doing that, and I bet it could open up some interesting (though, likely non-obvious) legal risks for companies.

Cheers

Re:And? (2, Funny)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860815)

it's nice to develop a bit of indifference

Exactly.

Ah, apathy. The cause of, and solution to, life's problems

Re:And? (1, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860969)

Articles like this one just perpetuate numerous cultural and organizational phenomena of taking risks then blaming someone else for losing the bet. Management's role in creating the situation is totally ignored by most of the comments to my initial reply.

Because, some people aren't supposed to be seeing certain things

Running with that assumption for a moment, most of the replies totally ignore the *fact* that Management is unwilling to pay OR EVEN CONSIDER using a system that would guard those "certain things."

-PGP encrypt attachments? No way.
-Password on a zipped archive? Probably not.
-A system-wide approach via PKI? Not on your life.

Management has *intentionally* set themselves up for failure and they blame the IT worker? This is the classic case of sh!t rolling downhill.

Which is worse? (5, Interesting)

IronWilliamCash (1078065) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860265)

Given the nature of a sysadmin's job, I think I'd be more worried about the other 2 out of 3 that don't snoop around. A curious sysadmin will find more problems and more possible solutions than one who doesn't care.

Re:Which is worse? (4, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860399)

How exactly is reading another employee's email, or monitoring all of a user's web traffic (with out instruction to do so) going to help you in maintaining your domain?

Is being able to flip through the HR database and seeing everyone's pay rate going to make your network more secure?

And if your users learn of your snooping, is it going to be a boon to your company when either you are fired, or employees leave rather than be snooped on?

If you are snooping and you are looking at anything more than purely technical information, you are likely going over the bounds of ethical behavior if you don't have managerial backing.

-Rick

Re:Which is worse? (1)

IronWilliamCash (1078065) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860537)

It really depends on what data is being looked at. I agree that going through the payroll or other isn't ethical at all, but if some user keeps filling up your partitions on the local servers and you go and have a look to find out it's full if kiddie porn or illegal music/movies, etc. Then it was a good thing you went to have a look, even if it was on his private partition, because the company could get in a LOT of trouble if it got caught with any of that on it's servers.

Re:Which is worse? (2, Insightful)

masterzora (871343) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860633)

If an employee is using abnormally high amounts of disk space, you have a reason to go look (granted, you should _talk_ to the user before looking, but you still have a reason). This is different from snooping.

Dis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23861089)

JPEGs of the "wrong" kind of content can be an equal liability as MPEGs and they'll never show up on any polite filecount or diskspace checks.

Let the sysadmins browse.

Keep your private photos at work, do you?

Re:Which is worse? (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860637)

Well sometimes when you are performing a backup and you see that hey this user took 1 hour to backup. You kinda want to poke around and see what is there. There are a bunch of Movie Files oddly named. Now if you look at them and you see they are recoded video conferences then they are good. If their are something "No approprate for work" then it is an issue to either remove them or take action on the user. Knowing what is on your system is important. Most of the times when you look to see peoples salaries the Admin will go oh that is where the saleries are stored lets make sure that this is properly protected. As a side thought they may see how they are doing compared to others but just as long he doesn't use it there really isn't any damage there.

Re:Which is worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860749)

I found the HR Lady's computer was sharing her Desktop across the network while I was snooping around the network in a past life. She had everything -- performance reviews, HR actions, all of it -- shared to the entire network. Without that minor bit of snooping around, the right person may not have found about this breach (I wasn't in charge of desktop admin/network support at the time).

Re:Which is worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860601)

I worked for a school district and gave some rights to the business teacher so she could help me out. She was cleaning up some things and happened upon some pictures in another teacher's folder. She showed me one picture for less than one second. This was a photo of one gentleman straddling another gentleman's chest and releasing sperm onto the first man. Both men in the picture appeared to be in agony...or maybe something else. I didn't snoop before and I don't snoop now. I don't want to know.

Re:Which is worse? (5, Interesting)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860871)

I think you're confusing the word "curious" with the term my grandma used. "Nibshit".

It's great to be curious. Wondering how things work will definitely teach you.

Being a nibshit will only get you into things you shouldn't.

Of course, at one of my old jobs at an ISP, another admin (who was a nibshit) found a stash of kiddie porn in a users folder. I suppose it's a positive story, since the guy ended up going to jail.

Re:Which is worse? (5, Interesting)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860873)

Curiosity for certain aspects of network management is far different than "snooping" on employees.

As has been stated, Reading their email or watching them surf does nothing to increase the security of the network.

(on a windows network)

You wanna be curious? Fine. Go pull a listing of the 8000+ databases on the network share and check their properties to see if they are secured correctly so the HR data contained in some of them isn't available to be seen by the "everyone" group.

Go search for old, out dated data files that haven't been accessed in 5 years, or personal multimedia files sitting on your shared space because the users want to listen to music all day long but are too cheap to bring in a $6 radio.

These are some of the things a decent Admin would and should look for (among others) but that power does not justify snooping on people because you're too bored to crack open a tech manual of some sort or read a tech-site online

Only 300? (1, Interesting)

djones101 (1021277) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860277)

That's an extremely small survey sample to try and draw relevant conclusions on. 30,000 might be a better indicator. Otherwise, you're talking too wide of a margin for error.

Re:Only 300? (2, Insightful)

the phantom (107624) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860497)

Not really. Often, a sample size of only 30-40 will be sufficient to draw conclusions of statistical significance. Even if we assume a moderately heterogenous population, a sample size of 300 ought to be fine, especially to draw the kind of conclusion that the article draws, namely that "many admins snoop" -- not all, or even necessarily a majority, but a large number. Thought of another way, when polling organizations like Gallup conduct a survey, their sample sizes are often right around 1,000, and they are modeling the entire population of the US, which is both larger and more heterogeneous than the population of admins in the US. You don't need super-large samples to get good data, and the utility of adding one more data point into a sample decays exponentially.

Re:Only 300? (1)

hankwang (413283) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860783)

the utility of adding one more data point into a sample decays exponentially.

No, not exponentially, but rather as N^(-3/2).

Re:Only 300? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860971)

To be exact, a sample of 300 should have a sampling error of around 5.8% -- a reasonable accuracy. A sample of 40 should have a sampling error of around 15.7% -- maybe suggestive of general tendencies, but if this were the sampling error in this survey we'd have a small but significant possibility that the actual ratio is close to 1:1. These numbers assume the sample is truly random.

when polling organizations like Gallup conduct a survey, their sample sizes are often right around 1,000, and they are modeling the entire population of the US

Size of the population being sampled isn't much of a factor, really, unless the sample size is approaching the population size. I think there are way more than 300 sys admins, so population size doesn't play a role here.

more heterogeneous than the population of admins

It seems to me that that carries a prior assumption about the thing you are trying to measure, i.e., that you believe this characteristic correlates with factors that are known to be fairly homogeneous in the population of sys admins. That may be the case, but it would require independent confirmation if you want to base an argument on that correlation.

Got no problem with that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860331)

If all they snoop on is other sysadmins, I'm fine with that...

What? They *said* colleagues, and I'm as chummy with my sysadmin as the front desk receptionist even though, for the purposes of trade magazines, as a software developer I'm an "IT professional".

Knowledge is Power... (2, Funny)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860339)

Did they lie on the survey or really don't snoop?"

I say most lied. Knowledge is power and it would be too damn tempting when you could have your finger on the company's pulse.

It would also explain the smug look. (kidding!)

They have a life (5, Informative)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860363)

'Makes you wonder about the other 2 out of 3. Did they lie on the survey or really don't snoop?'

They probably have a life. It's pretty pathetic to have to get one's jollies snooping on others rather than actually doing something.

Re:They have a life (4, Funny)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860885)

'Makes you wonder about the other 2 out of 3. Did they lie on the survey or really don't snoop?'
They probably have a life.
Or alternately, maybe they post to Slashdot.

Re:They have a life (5, Insightful)

gedhrel (241953) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860951)

Agreed. The "makes you wonder" comment makes you wonder about the professional ethics of the submitter.

There are three basic reasons why sysadmins don't snoop, in increasing order of importance:

1. It'd get you fired.
2. There isn't time in the day.
3. Basic bloody professional standards.

My institution recently underwent a long (very long) pay restructure. At about the point where things were finally settling down, the DBAs were hauled in and "reminded" that exposing or snooping through the resulting data would be a Bad Thing. My instant reaction was, "that's a fucking insult;" didn't think much of the middle-managers involved in passing on that message for not standing up for their staff. However, I think the reflection upon the personnel staff who issued the memo in the first place is that they are greasy, underhanded slime balls.

So no change there then.

Sysadmins mostly honest (5, Insightful)

fyoder (857358) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860413)

So in other words, a significant majority of sysadmins are honest. Given that they have "the keys to the kingdom" in the words of the article, that's pretty impressive.

Re:Sysadmins mostly honest (0, Flamebait)

tmark (230091) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860731)

That's like being happy to find out that only one third of policemen are not crooked, or only one third of people are child molesters. Would we be happy if the article read that "only" one third of *companies* snoop on our emails ?

Makes you wonder......? (5, Informative)

Jailbrekr (73837) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860415)

According to that survey, 2 out of 3 sysadmins realize that spying in a CLI (career limiting move) if they get caught. That, and the whole ethics and honour thing, are why we are able to manage the confidential data without snooping.

Did they attempt to coorelate (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860425)

snooping with the number of hotties at the office?

Don't believe the hype (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860441)

Come on people, for 'computer nerds' it's amazing how little logic you collectively display.

The company that sponsored the "poll" makes products for encrypting information and compliance with SOX..

Do you think they'd release a study that DIDN'T imply your information was in jeapordy?

This is simply marketing hype, don't fall for it -- it's positioned to get executives to suspect their IT staff (in my company's case, very respectable and honest IT staff) --

1 in 3 is a completely made up number for the benefit of the company trying to SELL PRODUCT

Re:Don't believe the hype (1)

chrispix (624431) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860797)

In a poll conducted of a company with 1 system admins was snooping on other people. The other 2 systems admin positions were not filled.

Re:Don't believe the hype (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#23861001)

Come on people, for 'computer nerds' it's amazing how little logic you collectively display.

Ewe muss bee knew hear!

1 in 3 is a completely made up number for the benefit of the company trying to SELL PRODUCT

If they sell to the UK they can't just make it up out of whole cloth like they do here in the US, as they have false advertising laws that benefit your customers rather then your competitors. Of course, they could have fudged the numbers with bad methodology but they can't just pull them out of dark hairy orifices like we can here.

I, too, am annoyed with the Visa comercials where the Visa users zip through the line while the dead president-using guy gums up the works, especially when I'm standing in the checkout line behind some Visa user whose card is taking ten minutes (or at least seems like ten minutes) to authenticate. I wish we had the UK's "Advertising Standards Board."

What's the major malfunction? (3, Interesting)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860481)

of those SysAdmins who feel it necessary to snoop on people? If you're bored, get out of Admin Pack and head over to /. or Technet (if you are of the MS persuasion) and learn something new. I don't care who you are or how good you are, you don't know EVERYTHING...

Maybe it's just me, but I just don't get it...

I probably have access to more account information and networked shared space than most people, but I have no urge, need, or desire to see what's in their accounts or shares. (Beyond making sure private data is secured and there isn't pornography or other bad files out there using up all our networked drives. That's one of my monthly chores)

Only reason I'm here right now posting is because I'm in the middle of a scan. Our scans take 6-7 hours to run (with the process set to realtime priority) so about the only thing my computer is able to do is browse the web (slowly, I might add)

"Could" I snoop? Sure. "Would" I? Never. That's one of the reasons why I have this job.

Re:What's the major malfunction? (1)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860753)

only thing my computer is able to do is browse the web (slowly, I might add)

"Could" I snoop? Sure. "Would" I? Never. That's one of the reasons why I have this job.
Aren't you technically "snooping" through the "tubes"?

Bad joking aside. I too think that snooping is pointless in IT. So far in the past few positions I've been in, I've had access to a lot of private information (SSN's for one thing). Do I ever feel a need to snoop through them and look at them? Not really, I guess I don't do it because I see no point, and even if I did I would probably fear the ramifications of the law because anything I do with it is illegal I'm sure.

I don't snoop (4, Insightful)

ebunga (95613) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860519)

I don't snoop. Truth be told, I don't really care about anyone or what they're doing. Besides, most sysadmins are lazy. Good sysadmins do their best to automate as much as possible so they have to do as little as possible. Do you seriously think we want to create more work for ourselves?

Time (1, Insightful)

repetty (260322) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860533)

I'm a system administrator.

Where the fuck do these people get the time to snoop?

Re:Time (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860975)

Agreed.

If you've got time to snoop, you're not doing it right.

I wish I had time to keep even with the stuff I was supposed to be doing.

/it's cool, I'm supposed to be on Slashdot

The other 2 out of 3 (2, Interesting)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860575)

The other 2 know better than to out themselves as snoops on any kind of survey... I mean what is the guarantee that the survey wasn't a snoop by the employer to catch "honest spies"?

And another thing... (1, Insightful)

ebunga (95613) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860597)

Do cashiers and bank tellers pilfer from their tills? Rarely. Those that do lose their jobs. Most of the general population is generally honest and of good character.

Re:And another thing... (2)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860925)

Most of the general population is generally honest

At least those, including cashiers and bank tellers, who have to balance the drawer at the end of the day...

rj

Beware the bored IT... (1)

Raccroc (238757) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860619)

Ethics aside, people in IT departments usually seem to fall into one of two categories...

1. Those that are so bored they have nothing better to do than to snoop.
2. Those that are so busy they don't have time to snoop.

(Note: /. can be the cause or a symptom of either of those to options...)

Re:Beware the bored IT... ... better let 'em surf (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#23861037)

The ultimate recipe for disaster is where you have bored staff, and the IT policy does not permit personal internet use. As the old saying goes: The Devil makes work for idle hands. So in that case it's better they focus their boredom into outward-facing activities than inward-facing ones.

This is more true in shared hosting (2, Insightful)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860641)

I host for a few friends of mine, and I don't really snoop unless their disk space crosses threshold. Then I ask if they'd reduce application XYZ's data footprint because it's encroaching on other users backup space.

In non-shared, it's more often snooping of port activity for security audits. Hey, you don't need that derelict FTP server running. Mind shutting it off so we can get VISA certification?

Never again (5, Interesting)

citylivin (1250770) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860643)

I made the mistake of looking at a co workers pay who I thought was equal in status to me. BIG MISTAKE. After finding out he was paid several hundred dollars more than me a paycheque for doing basically the same job, I never looked at him or the company the same way again. I left that company not too long after, partly because I felt ripped off. Its very hard to unsee things sometimes.

As for internet history or watching peoples screens while their back is turned, I would never do that *TO A PEER*. Its just a respect thing. I have definitely been told to monitor subordinates internet accesses as well as various people throughout the companies I have worked for. Ive gotten people fired for looking at facebook on work hours, but thats part of the job in some corporations. I wonder if the article is talking about peers (in the IT department) or extra-departmental persons whom you could legitimately be instructed to snoop on.

Define Snoop. (4, Insightful)

kcdoodle (754976) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860649)

Yeah, I definitely have done it. No matter how you define it.

I CAN say that I have never logged into systems I wasn't allowed in, but I have
cd /home
and looked around.

However, I have never USED the information. I never really found anything incriminating, except TONS of porn. Hey, if you have a proxy server at work, all the porn you view is cached on the proxy. Our proxy used to show the file owner, ha ha, you are busted. I never busted anyone however, just backed up the porn to CDs and deleted it. Anyone want some old CDs?

Also, I used to work nights. If you just turned me down for a raise (poor-mouthing how bad the company is doing), do not leave your 6 month $14K bonus paperwork lying around on top of your desk. I was just delivering reports, but damn, I lost all respect for you. That is why I do not work for you anymore.

So? (3, Insightful)

Neko-kun (750955) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860665)

As far as I know, sysadmins are bound by privacy laws.

And if those are the same laws that apply everywhere I've worked at, then it doesn't matter if they access my files or read my email.
As long as the info is not made public, used maliciously, discussed between colleges, then it doesn't matter.

It's not what you know, it's how you use it.

the other 2 out of 3 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860679)

said Yes but then logged into the recipients' e-mail server and edited the mbox file to make it say No.

Never snizzle on your collizzles (0, Flamebait)

TheNucleon (865817) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860681)

I used to Snoop on my collizzles until they told me to knizzle it off, dizzle bizzle.

Surveys... (4, Interesting)

mulvane (692631) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860717)

Of those 2 out of 3 left, 4 out of 5 were found to have lied on the survey. Of those that lied, it was found that 2 out of 3 only snoop on those they think they have a romantic connection with and considered it not snooping but pre-mutual love investigation. Of those that act and are rejected, 50% continue to snoop to plan murderous intentions that later end in the woman of said attraction kicking said admins ass. Makes you wonder where all these stats come from really though doesn't it..

Snooping != monitoring (2, Insightful)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860763)

At a previous sysadmin job, I never snooped on colleagues.

However, as part of my duties, I was instructed to monitor some individuals and to scan for specific keywords in the logs.

It's the ethics, stupid (1)

painehope (580569) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860777)

It's called ethics. Plain and simple. Most people do not have ethics or a code of honor, on or off the job, so is it really so surprising that some sysadmins (many of whom are fed up with ID10T errors and ready to snap) don't practice either? I might kick a fallen opponent in the ribs (multiple times, generally - there ain't so such thing as a fair fight) if I'm brawling, but I will not read users' email - as I respect their privacy much as I expect mine to be respected. Ethics, honor, responsibility, etc. - all things that are required in a free society. And people wonder why this country is swirling down the proverbial shitter...

My case (2, Informative)

^_^x (178540) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860821)

Marking this redundant would be redundant itself - I'm just chipping in my $0.02.

I very much have the ability to spy on my colleagues in my position in IT. There are inevitably times when I see personal data on people's PCs. But I don't snoop because it's really much easier that way.

You can rationalize this to not having time, being caught, having ethics, not having to hide something big or decide whether or not to, etc, but really they all factor in. It's just not worth the trouble and risk in general.

Thankfully where I work we have policies that prevent us from ever knowing user passwords, and various others to keep us from having too much control over their accounts in the wrong ways, or having to know things we don't need to.

Are you calling me a liar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860823)

'Cause if you are, you should know I got dirt on you...

Survey results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860851)

"0% of respondants say they lie on surveys"

assume they all do (2, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860867)

The results of this survey are pretty meaningless. From a company perspective, they should assume that any or all sysadmins / DBAs (the DBAs will have juicier pickings) can and will rake through the company's data. Merely hoping that the interview process will weed out those who are likely to have a snoop is naive to the point of negligence.

Given that anyone with both the access and the inclination will have harvested any information they want long before they hand in their notice, having them escorted out is going to be ineffective. From that position, threatening dismissal will not be an effective deterrent, especially now that it's so hard to put allegations into a job reference, unless there's a criminal case that's been proved.

Probably the only industry where safeguards come close to working is in the financial sector - where the regulations about insider trading make it hard to exploit privileged information without getting caught. However, that's a legal solution, not a technical one.

It's all about morals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23860929)

I have users that want to give me their passwords all the time or move sensitive documents for them. I would rather walk over to their desk and direct them to do it themselves than even know where the document it located. Sure, I have access but I have better things to do than see what is in random documents.

Why not? (2, Insightful)

br00tus (528477) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860935)

At many jobs, I have had access to my boss's, and his boss's (etc.) e-mail since I ran the e-mail server. I am not going to make any legal admissions here, but why wouldn't I read it? I would find out ahead of time about such things as layoffs and that type of thing. Being that I am a wage slave, I want to know about this sort of thing. This is like the "ethics" of slave snooping on their slave master. I am waiting for a Lenin/Pol Pot type to come along and wipe out these bosses, company boards, majority shareholders and the like, so the e-mail snooping is a no-brainer.

Only Their Sysadmins Know For Sure? (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860939)

Did they lie on the survey or really don't snoop?


There's surely one way to know. But who watches their sysadmin's sysadmin?

The other 2.. (1)

swb (14022) | more than 5 years ago | (#23860963)

...did it a couple of times and realized that (a) snooping was largely a waste of time, there wasn't much to snoop for, and that (b) the risks were high and if they got caught, it'd be all over.

It's been said that "Gentlemen don't read other gentlemen's mail" except of course when they do.

It's not very fun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23861007)

All this snooping talk, as if there's something good to be found!

As if any of my fellow workers have any remotely interesting files. Please. Even the worst offender could not hold my attention for long, I'm used to really salacious scams.

And knowing top secret company info? My company rightfully keeps me in the loop, otherwise how could I offer my expertise and advice? Also, it's our job to know what's on our network.

They also pay me well enough that I would never jeopardize my job for some silly bullshit. Besides, ANYTHING goes wrong and I have to deal with it anyway!

Maybe it helps that I have a busy life outside of work, too.

IT folk, like police and others in a position of power, need to be held to exacting standards, and should be beyond reproach. Nothing else can be tolerated.

SPAM? "not relevant to role?" (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#23861029)

accessed information that was not relevant to their role
This does not imply snooping, or even anything wrong. In a large organization with well defined roles, it's easy to step into someone else's turf while still doing your job.

Regarding the 1/3, does that include sysadmins in small shops tasked with reading through the near-miss SPAM? I had to do that for a while, and it left a bad taste in my mouth whenever I saw a real email (strange considering the SPAM should have made me want to use LAVA soap on me eyes). Did it also include Information Security departments, whose job it is to snoop judiciously?

This is why I'm lazy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23861033)

I'm a sysadmin, and I don't snoop at all. Sure it's "honorable" and "ethical" not to, but I feel that the more real issue is that the more privileged knowledge you have, to more responsibility you have. I know my own passwords and the network passwords, that's it. If someone tries to tell me their password for convenience, I tell them "I don't want to know it, keep it to yourself." I have enough shoulder-crushing responsibilities as it is, I don't want to know more shit that would put me in a position of necessary action. Say that I'm not living up to my potential, and that my company would want someone more proactive, but I'm pretty damn proactive when it comes to my job responsibilities and the responsibilities of my department. This isn't to say that when I'm tracking down legitimate problems and they lead me to a user's personal data or habits that I don't go there; that's part of my job, but there is a thick line that I never cross. This all assumes that the admin would take responsibility for the information they gained by snooping, which I would feel compelled to do, and for that I don't have an explanation. On the other hand, I used to work with an admin who snooped, I knew about it and he knew I knew about it, but I really didn't have a problem with it. It led to some catches, too, but I still never took part in it. I think some people just have an aversion to invading other people's personal space, and some people don't. Apparently that ratio for sysadmins is 1/3.

YOU FAIL iYT.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23861049)

NetBSD user to dEcline for

Lonely Sysadmins? (1)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 5 years ago | (#23861151)

Did they lie on the survey or really don't snoop?
No, really, some of us really don't snoop because we really don't care.

First off, it's none of my business what photos or personal documents our employees store on their work PC -- as long as it's legal, of course. I also just don't feel like I care that much to know, let alone go out of my way to snoop for it. Must be some lonely sysadmins that have nothing better to do for themselves than to butt into the privacy of others.

Getting off topic for a moment, is anyone else getting tired of the closing, troll-like comments that end up on the end of almost every article? No klubar, it actually doesn't make me wonder what the other 2 out of 3 sysadmins are doing because they are probably off doing their real job. Article summaries should set the frame up for an even discussion, rather than attempting to beat first posters with some lame opinion that can't be moderated.

</rant>

Survey Results (5, Funny)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 5 years ago | (#23861171)

2 out of 3, that's like the

2% of people masturbate in the shower, the other 98% lie about it
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