Are sysadmins and Google evil hackers?

Do almost half of systems administrators read the emails of their co-workers? And has Google found a way into the content-management system of News Limited?

A nice little stoush is developing between the Systems Administrators Guild of Australia (SAGE-AU) and the Sydney Morning Herald, over quotes published in the SMH where Earthwave CEO Carlo Minassian claimed, "We know that 40 per cent of IT email administrators and IT managers look inside their manager's, their board's, their chief information officer's, and chief executive officer's emails regularly and read their email."

SAGE issued a fiery retort to the quotes.

Minassian replied, quoting an HP study that surveyed 5569 IT operations and security managers in 13 countries, including Australia, where 64 per cent of people who have privileged access rights feel that they are allowed and empowered to access things, and 61 per cent of those users access sensitive or confidential data because of their curiosity.

So, which is it? Are sysadmins vile snoops just for heck of it? Or are they fine, upstanding gentlemen that keep networks running at prime efficiency?

In my experience, it's just like any other job; some are very good, some are mediocre and some are truly terrible sneaks.

Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments below.

Are you ready for a tale so fantastic that words will fail to do it justice?

Last night, during the pinnacle of Australian television award ceremonies, otherwise known as the Logies, the Herald-Sun published a story that revealed the gold Logie winner while the awards were still taking place. For international readers, the gold Logie is a popularity contest between mainstream TV personalities — and, yes, its as terrible as it sounds.

Where this story gets nice and technical is that the editor of the Herald Sun, Simon Pristel, has claimed that Google was able to index an unpublished story, and that the story never appeared on its website.

"It turns out that Google had somehow searched into our system and found the story that was published in the paper," said Pristel.

These screenshots beg to differ.

If you can bring yourself to listen to it, there's an interview with Pristel on Triple M from this morning.

Warning: above interview may contain traces of Eddie McGuire.


Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan.During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic advent...


A coworker had a coffee mug that said "I don't read your email" wrapped around the body. On the base was printed "You're not that interesting".



tommy 1 Like

I'm actually pretty offended by anyone who suggests that I spend any time reading other peoples email. Aside from the fact that it is illegal to do so in the UK, unless a very specific set of circumstances arises - see RIPA 2000 - I've got a huge amount of work to do as it is without trawling the tens of thousands of emails we create as a company each week.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000 1 Like

Everyone knows that you just sit on your rear end doing nothing all day. It's not as if you have anything else [b]"Important"[/b] to do. :^0 [/sarcasm] It always amazes me how some people think that we have nothing better to do but break the law and snoop. Here when we find anything that we consider Child Porn we are supposed to report it to the authorities. Well that's fair enough but what I want to know is who has time to waste looking through everything on a HDD to look for some Kiddy Porn? Col

MikeRigsby 1 Like

Illegal, unethical, and that's assuming any of my users had personal emails I had any interest in. IT is soap opera enough thanks. Totally not interested in employee's personal lives . That's HR's job.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Instead of knowing that you are planing on getting pregnant before you realize it yourself they are now finding out who won the Gold Logie before it's announced. Don't be surprised when they do the same thing for the Acme Awards latter. The only difference this time is that they will have the Gold Winer for 2015 announced during the 2012 awards. :D Col


Blaming sysadmins? Aside from it's unethical for sysadmins to do so, it's probably also illegal in many jurisdictions. I use to use a utility for Exchange to extract mail from the server to a PST account for those employees that departed. Technically a sysadmin could read the Email, but why? [The company later came out with a directive to stop using the tool anyways.] As for Google, who knows what they are doing sometimes....


I'm sure that Google was able to crawl it because they had analytics on it? Sounds like it can only be their fault, it's not like Google had an insider waiting to leak info.

Editor's Picks