Mark Felt

A Question For The Professional It Experts

15 posts in this topic

Here's an awkward situation that requires some sound IT advice....

I normally do my "research" on my secure home computer. I would never use my work computer, where everything goes through the company server. But as it happens, I was in China a couple of weeks ago and I did use my company laptop to check out a couple of sites and this forum too.

My rationale was that there are some sites that I cannot access at work (e.g. facebook, youtube, etc.), but can access when I use the same laptop at home. So I figured that maybe when working off the company network, all of the internet traffic does not go through the company server.

But a funny thing happened. When I got back home, I noticed that the "safe search" filter on Google had defaulted to "strict". When I tried to change it back to "moderate", it refused.

So here are my questions:

(1) Is the sudden puritanical streak in my laptop caused by the fact that I visited a couple of "dodgy" sites, even though it was done "remotely" and not while connected to the company network?

(2) If so, is this type of thing automated and contained to my machine or does it trigger flashing lights and sirens in the IT department at home office?

In short, should I expect some knowing looks from the guys in IT the next time I bump into them in the lift?

I'm not too anxious about it because it was just a couple of sites for a total of about five minutes -- it wasn't hours of browsing for escorts across half the Internet. So I am sure it is easily explained away and laughed off if necessary. More than anything, it goes against all my understanding about how the company computers work. I am more concerned about my exhaustive research into headhunters and other employment opportunities!

Any thoughts welcome.

Thanks

MF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't worry about it.

The sites will be in your cache on the machine so just make sure you clear out your cache-( internet options delete browsing history)

Next time browse inprivate mode so nothing is saved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm no IT expert but I have be told by the one laid back member of out tech team that the Administrator account on my work laptop tracks all activity on the laptop, whether at home, Starbucks, IT cafe, gym or if I hard wire it to the network at work.

When hard wired to the work network the Administrator account reports back to the IT Department on activity.

This may or may not be possible OR true but I do know that the IT Department is always in meltdown and console myself that a little bit of illict surfing is the last thing that will on the job list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There can be "proxies" that sit between your browser and your internet access port. You'll need to check if theres one installed. Doesnt do anything but logs sites accessed.

You can disable them if you have access.

Im using a work laptop now and havent been caught out as I havent got one and delete all history (well, dont want to be doing a work demo an type in an url and it autocompletes to www.punternet.com with directors sitting there )

Browse in "inprivate mode" is usually good enough but make sure that your browsers are unloaded before moving from private home network to work network. Sometimes IE has been closed but a runaway process has been running in the background. Make sure to kill it before startup on the work network as you dont know what sites that process is accessing....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's an awkward situation that requires some sound IT advice....

I normally do my "research" on my secure home computer. I would never use my work computer, where everything goes through the company server. But as it happens, I was in China a couple of weeks ago and I did use my company laptop to check out a couple of sites and this forum too.

My rationale was that there are some sites that I cannot access at work (e.g. facebook, youtube, etc.), but can access when I use the same laptop at home. So I figured that maybe when working off the company network, all of the internet traffic does not go through the company server.

But a funny thing happened. When I got back home, I noticed that the "safe search" filter on Google had defaulted to "strict". When I tried to change it back to "moderate", it refused.

So here are my questions:

(1) Is the sudden puritanical streak in my laptop caused by the fact that I visited a couple of "dodgy" sites, even though it was done "remotely" and not while connected to the company network?

(2) If so, is this type of thing automated and contained to my machine or does it trigger flashing lights and sirens in the IT department at home office?

In short, should I expect some knowing looks from the guys in IT the next time I bump into them in the lift?

I'm not too anxious about it because it was just a couple of sites for a total of about five minutes -- it wasn't hours of browsing for escorts across half the Internet. So I am sure it is easily explained away and laughed off if necessary. More than anything, it goes against all my understanding about how the company computers work. I am more concerned about my exhaustive research into headhunters and other employment opportunities!

Any thoughts welcome.

Thanks

MF

Im not sure of your company's IT policy but they usually take this Very seriously. Most things on work computers are tracked in one way or another. White collar oragnisations generally just dont accept this conduct so dont assume you can "laugh it off" if they decide to take it further. It is already causing you concern or you wouldnt be writing it on here. Just make sure you discipline yourself and make sure you dont use Work computers for anything dodgy and keep your fingers crossed you dont suffer any embarrasment in front of HR. It's not a great time to lose your job.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeez, being my own boss I am so glad I don't have to worry about this kind of shit - it's bad enough having to be vigilant about hiding my online activity from mrs vin.

Get yourself an iPad FFS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In principle, you have no hope of doing any surfing in a "safe" way on your work laptop.

In practice, maybe most IT people are enough of the "turn it off and on again" level that you'll never be caught if you take some very basic precautions. But maybe one of your IT people is Moss from the IT crowd, and then you're in trouble.

Personally if I didn't at least know for sure whether any of the traffic would go over the work network, I wouldn't do it. But then I know enough to be confident about that. Edited to add: just to be clear, I'm not saying all work laptops can be relied upon to not send your dodgy site browsing through your workplace network. I'm just saying I know what to check to be confident my own laptop isn't doing that.

Of course there are risks with personal devices too: if you have a suspicious spouse, a software keylogger will reveal all in no time.

Edited by toomuch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

glad i too am my own boss......only 'er in doors to hide my online activities and that aint too difficult!

i use Chrome browser and the "incognito window" so no history left to have to delete each time.....I am not IT geek and am sure this isnt foolproof but could be an option? Over to the experts....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

glad i too am my own boss......only 'er in doors to hide my online activities and that aint too difficult!

i use Chrome browser and the "incognito window" so no history left to have to delete each time.....I am not IT geek and am sure this isnt foolproof but could be an option? Over to the experts....

most companies have an acceptable use policy for their IT stuff and browsing hookering sites will be considered non acceptable. Companies will put in place stuff to track internet use and block inapropriate things. They dont advertise what they do to monitor this so I would always assume that all companies equipment monitors your use and therefore dont use it for porn/WG/gambling/non copyright material etc.

they can lead themselves open to legal action if they dont do this (They say so but what?)

bigger the company the more intrusive the monitoring will be.

so simple message. dont so it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As other posters said you need to make sure you

- Browse using a private mode in your web browser

- Turn off any proxy servers

Generally companies don't allow you to browse porn sites using their equipment, regardless of network you are connected to. If you are not very tech savvy and don't know how to cover your tracks then definitely don't use your work laptop for porn/punternet.

They may not do anything if they find out but if there is some reason why they want to get rid of you (now or in the future) this is an excellent excuse for them to use as it is considered gross misconduct by most companies.

Edited by Podge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As other posters said you need to make sure you

- Browse using a private mode in your web browser

- Turn off any proxy servers

Generally companies don't allow you to browse porn sites using their equipment, regardless of network you are connected to. If you are not very tech savvy and don't know how to cover your tracks then definitely don't use your work laptop for porn/punternet.

I just hope people reading this don't ignore your warnings and think that just using a private mode and turning off HTTP proxying is enough. Even some of the most basic stuff isn't on that list - for example VPNs, and logging at any one of dozens of levels.

Right now, and even if you are "tech savvy", if somebody is trying to track you on hardware they have ever had access to, there's not much you can do about it. Also, even if they're not really trying, you are still fairly likely to leak your browsing history to your IT department just by accident. More than likely they're too busy and won't notice, but anybody thinking about this should seriously ask themselves if they want to rely on that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Never use your work computer for anything you want to keep private. A lot of companies will track and log all connections no matter what network you connect to. Just not worth it. Keep your work computer and phone totally "clean".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Get yourself a usb drive, put the Tor/Portable Firefox browser on it and only browse using that. Nice bit of kit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

New legislation has come into place that means IT departments up and down the country are monitoring much more than they were before. There is no safe way to surf these sites of your company laptop without it been tracked (if they want to) even the USB drive method mentioned earlier will only be good when you are on a public network and not your works network.

If you feel you may be in some of the smelly stuff I suggest you back up all your data you require and then secure erase your hard drive take it in to work and play dumb.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The picture is unlikely to as black and white as is being painted here.

The main issue is how you connect the laptop to the internet, does it use your own personal broadband and/or public wifi access points ? If so you have little to worry about. If work provides you with VPN (Virtual Private Network) into the Office from home then your traffic probably does go through your company network. However If you have the latter it is not practical track that activity very closely. What is official Corporate Policy is probably driven by HR. This may or may not be actually enforced by the IT department. Quite often these Policies are ignored, IT have more than enough work to be kept busy. What we IT guys worry about is malware and Information security (data leaving the company) Where a Internet policy is enforced it will usually be via some net nanny software which will block 'unacceptable sites. This is unlikely to effect your google settings.

Edited by WykeTyke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now