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Pro's/Con's of CEO installing spyware w/o employees knowledge?

By evin.hill ·
I am a sys admin for a small company only 50 employees. Over the weekend the CEO installed spyware on all the machines to track activity on the network, i.e.-E-mail, access to files, internet activity, etc. I was here for the install, but did not do the install myself. There was an outside company that was brought in to do it. The spyware is the kind that runs in the background. It was a "hush hush" install. Nobody in the company know's about it other than myself, the CEO and the company that installed it. Do you think this was the right way to do it? Not letting anyone know? The software itself has caused a tremendous amount of "lag" on our workstations. I have to keep my mouth shut as to why and just say "it's from the upgrade to a 'secure network'" I just don't feel it's right. Any of you have this experience?

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Against it

by jdmercha In reply to Pro's/Con's of CEO instal ...

I've always been of the opinion that if you can't trust you emplyees, then you shouldn't have hired them in the first place.

But if I were in your situation, I would first of all voice my objections to my boss. I would then remind users of the company policy on computer usage. And remind them that there are always ways of tracking computer usage, such as temp files, history files, and cache on their computers, as well as traffic reports from routers and servers.

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Ultimately it is their right

by Oz_Media In reply to Pro's/Con's of CEO instal ...

As an employee of a company yu must ALWAYS understand that the company reserves the right to monitor ALL usage of their investment. This includes reviewing outbound email, written correspondence and internet usage.

Some companies do this automatically for ALL employees, some just flag a suspicious employees actions.

Either way, whether you feel it is MORALLY incorrect or not is irrelevant. The company holds 100% right to do this without warning at any time they choose.

There is NO issue of privacy rights being infringed upon, it is their equipment and they can monitor whatever they want without your prior consent.

If they have called in an outside company, they have obviously been sold a network monitoring service/package and will probably get tired of paying for it after a little while, you never know he may have even been offered a free trial service to see what he thinks of it. Either way, it is the companies perogative to do so anytime.

You have done the right thing by merely keeping your mouth shut, sharing such knowledge is very easy grounds for immediate termination without notice.

You COULD tell the boss you feel wrong about it and perhaps suggest sending out a reminder of the computer policies, but if they are against the idea be prepared to just clam up.

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Oz_Media is mostly correct

by amcol In reply to Ultimately it is their ri ...

Hard to believe there's anyone who doesn't understand that public access and corporate computer systems come with no expectation of privacy. Having said that, I also understand your moral indignation at the stealth method of installation.

The CEO (who, remember, is in charge of and responsible for overall corporate performance) had every right to install this software. It's more typical for professional organizations to do so in a more public fashion...put a disclaimer of some kind on the initial splash screen with a "no expectation of privacy" warning.

My new employment. Company culture emanates from the top, and your way of doing things (which I applaud, BTW) is inconsistent with this organization. People who don't trust other people are themselves not to be trusted.

Why would you want to stay in such an environment?

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Only a few basic thoughts here

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Oz_Media is mostly correc ...

Firstly if the company has a computer usage policy in place which all workers have signed they are within their rights to do this.

If they do not have a computer usage policy in place the CEO is treading on some very thin ice but provided that this is just used for research purposes to frame a computer usage policy it again is quite all right.

The one worry is that the installed software is slowing down the system which just should not happen with any half way decent monitoring software. From what you have posted & what I've so far read it sounds to me like a "Trial" copy of a program that they have either offered for free to work out the bugs or it is just for the CEO's personal gain example having a monitoring program in place which he isn't paying for until he either decides that it is worth the money spent on it or is a waste of money and man power to constantly monitor the thing. Either way the system needs a major upgrade to limit the Lag periods which should not be happening.


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Only if...

by Packratt In reply to Pro's/Con's of CEO instal ...

The CEO is more than welcome to install spyware on my workstation if the CEO is willing to let me install it on his workstation as well.

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legal issues

by afram In reply to Pro's/Con's of CEO instal ...

Aren't there legal issues with that? Better check with the local laws.
As I understand it, any monitoring must be declared to the company employees BEFORE monitoring can begin.

I think it's best practice to announce it clearly in policy. As soon as someone find out, you can be sure they will be VERY untrusting of you and the CEO.

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Get another job,, your CEO has turned into a PEON

by dafe2 In reply to Pro's/Con's of CEO instal ...

Like anyone else that's going to answer you, I'm sure we've all monitored and where asked to look through E-Mails and all the rest...distasteful part of the job really. Anyway, what's different here is the owner chose a "Monitor" rather than an "Investigation".

IMO he or she is looking for something or someone and wants privacy while he's doing it. While this is unorthodox, it's not illegal & for whatever reason he / she kept you at a distance.

Support them by keeping quiet and being respectful. I'd also keep a fresh copy of my resume at hand if I where you. CEO's don't usually wake up one day and decide to monitor the network so intrusively because they're bored.

Whatever trigered this shouldn't last long and at the END of it you'll likely get an explanation. I'll bet you'll (probably) get a hand delivered "invitation" from a Judge to explain that you did NOT know of the presence of the monitor.

However, if it goes on forever so to speak, look for another job. Your CEO has turned into a nosy clerk, not the leader they should be.

If this were a "legit" monitor the CEO would NOT be doing it. The CEO would ask YOU to implement it and write the policy. The employees would have full knowledge of it's presence at the very least. Something's up.

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Thanks Everyone

by evin.hill In reply to Pro's/Con's of CEO instal ...

I do appreciate all the responses. I know that the CEO has the right to do with his company and equipment as he so pleases and that it ultimately falls on his shoulders if someone is using the systems in a non-productive and business oriented manner. I didn't know what software was installed until I ran my Spybot Search & Destroy software. It's not "true" monitoring software. It's spyware and a hacker tool to log keystrokes and take screenshots of the desktops. I'm still at odds over this. I understand the business reasoning behind it all, but as everyone has stated, the trust issue is at odds with me. I feel there are other ways around having to "spy" on employees. As stated in other posts, if you can't trust them, they shouldn't be employed. I thank everyone for your replies.

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A closing thought

by Oz_Media In reply to Thanks Everyone

YOu have elaborated oin the type of tracking that is installed, this leads me to wonder if a customer has complained of either information tampering, poor service or perhaps even malicious information being sent from an employee.

IF the CEO had asked you to install this on ONE person's system, the suspicion would rise and perhaps YOU are in cahoots with teh problem employees, how is HE to know? The best way to fo this without singling out a person is to install it as a blanket service. He may only actually be monitoring or interested in a single suspected users activities for legal purposes.

However, many companies write these policies now, NONE that I have ever worked for and some of the monitoring has been extreme. They are not obligated to remind you of the law surrounding thier freedom to access and review all information leaving the company, it is a courtesy offered to those of who wouldn't know otherwise for some reason.

If yor company is not acting morally as you would like, leave them and find another, it's not hard in most cases. I would hang tight though and see exactly what unfolds, for all you know he had soe hacker friend show him how to retrieve info and he will get bored with it or realize it is worthless o him, OR someone's malicious activity will be exposed and it will all make sense as to WHY it was done that way.

If YOU aren't doing anything wrong, which you are not in THIS case, why not just smile until payday and then smile until the next payday. Quitting because someone else is under suspicion just seems a little insane.

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by Bob in Calgary In reply to Thanks Everyone

If he has uinstalled a keylogger on the systems he's just blown any chance of a successful termination. The keylogger will capture userids and passwords of all users therefore any good lawyer can argue that the integrity of the user accounts has been compromised, which means you can't prove any information attached to a particular user. Tell him he's blown his investigation, If he wants to play computer cop he needs to hire someone who can do it correctly, Depending on where you are located he has probably broken privacy laws so he could be the one in big trouble.

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