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What to do about misrepresentative reporting

By jck ·
Tags: Off Topic
Recently, I started a new job. The environment that I am is incredibly slow-paced compared to the past places I have worked previously. For example, I will often go to my supervisor and ask for work rather than being brought projects to work on during the course of my work hours. I finish projects in quick order, and put them out for review. Sometimes, that takes several days and has even run into weeks before being looked at by senior staff before being deployed.

So in the meantime to do something somewhat constructive, I began going to technical sites for programming, hardware, etc., to read about latest news, trends, and technology that apply to my job as a software developer.

A few weeks ago, the department supervisor informed me that a report had shown that I was making attempts to go to sites with "adult" content. I assured the boss that I don't go to adult sites, and that I assume that the firewall/blocker was seeing embedded content that I couldn't control. Sure enough, video content sharing sites (such as YouTube) have been generically labelled as "adult".

So, now I can't go to websites to read about technical information without fear of being labelled as some kind of pervert who is going to adult sites during work hours. And, I understand that this report is going to be seen by top-level management who won't know that the blocking apparatus here hasn't been configured properly by the networking staff.

So, what am I to do? I don't have the means to get a 4G phone and surf from there, we are not allowed to bring in our own laptop with a mobile broadband card, and I do not want to sit here and just stare at walls because I can't go to TechRepublic or other technically-informative sites because I fear there will be an embedded webpage object that is from a website my organization has erroneously labelled "adult".

What would you do?

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Not easy

by santeewelding In reply to What to do about misrepre ...

These may be wrinkles you can finagle, doctor, and otherwise smooth out over time to mutual advantages. Could also be the makings of a culture clash -- theirs and yours. They are bigger than you are.

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If you want to get tricky about it...

by AnsuGisalas In reply to What to do about misrepre ...

refer your manager to a relevant blog (I recommend Jason Hiner's blogs, they are tailored for the tastes of the upper echelons), the problem will then be shared with another. Better still if the upper management can be gotten "infected" too.

So much easier to say your piece if they actually have reason to believe it can happen to the best of them :)

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I just did the normal thing

by jck In reply to If you want to get tricky ...

I told the Big Boss what happens.

In fact, I clicked a link from Wikipedia a little while ago that was supposed to go to a "international" website for a European tech supplier company.

It went to redirect me to a site that the system here said was "child pornography".

I emailed the big boss, and gave them a heads-up that a) I didn't try to go to child porn, and b) that I think that the filter system needs honing.

It's just sad. I try to keep informed about the who what when and where of tech, and I'm gonna get labelled as a sicko because of a lazy systems admin who didn't configure things well.

Glad I'm making screen captures of this stuff when it happens.

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Do you know what software they use?

by AV . In reply to What to do about misrepre ...

I worked extensively with Websense and currently I'm trying out SonicWall Viewpoint. As I have been the network police for years where I work, I can tell you that many sites are not categorized correctly. With Websense, we would get database updates that were pre-configured with categories. Sometimes valid sites were mis-categorized by Websense and the admin would have to make exceptions and/or submit URLs back to Websense to correct their database. What I did was go to the site in question and make a determination if it was really a policy violation. Many times it wasn't and I would make exceptions.

When this type of software is configured, you basically choose categories you want to block. It is very detailed and there is no way to get around it as long as you're using the company's internet access. They know how long you spend at each site too, so my word of caution to you is to be prudent in using your company's internet.

If I were you, I would give them a list of sites you would like to be able to visit and why you think they are important to your work. Your admin can make exceptions. Tech sites should not be blocked. You can't do anything about the ads on some of those sites. If you remember back before the site redesign on TR, some of the sponsored ads TR would display were sometimes pretty racy and had nothing to do with technology. I'm not sure if a Websense software would flag them as inappropriate content unless they were clicked on.

Stay away from You Tube at work, unless you think its a relevant work video. That eats up bandwidth, and there are reports in all of the monitoring software that shows who is using the most bandwidth. If you're not using it for business reasons, it looks bad. Most companies allow for minimal personal use during business hours, but if you're doing it for 2 hours a day, thats a different story.

Even if you're hanging out in discussions on TR, they can see that. They can see what discussion you were in. If it isn't work related, thats not good. My best advice is don't do anything on the company web you don't want your employer to see. You're not going to beat the software.

Your company will allow business related access. Instead of surfing the web for it, try signing up for newsletters that are sent to you with the content you want. They are usually strictly technical.

My bottom line advice is don't do anything on the company internet that your employer wouldn't approve of. No FB. No You Tube. Keep it to minimal personal use, business oriented, but always remember, its all logged, so think about that click. Thats what I do. I do my personal stuff outside of the office. Don't want people knowing my business.


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Thank you, AV

by santeewelding In reply to Do you know what software ...

That was frank and to the point. I am not directly affected, but some of my correspondents are. I learn from you how not to compromise them.

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yeah, I know

by jck In reply to Do you know what software ...

It's not those. Some cheapy system.

It's more an issue of the network guy not taking the time to setup a custom default config. Just letting the standard settings do, and apply any requests he gets to change business-related stuff.

I just read tech sites when I have no work. Go to my bank account once in a while. That's about it.

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I knoew someone who was FIRED

by TonytheTiger In reply to What to do about misrepre ...

based on faulty reporting such as this. I eventually helped him get his job back, with about $80,000 in back pay, but it cost me years of intense scrutiny... that eventually played a part in my decision to retire.

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I mean

by TonytheTiger In reply to I knoew someone who was F ...

their reports had him going to sites on days he wasn't even at work, and the same sites at the exact same times (to the second!) every day... they should have known something was messed up.

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It sounds like a bot of some kind

by AV . In reply to I mean

I ran into something like that once. Someone signed a person I worked with up for a porn site as a prank, and it took over their PC. Malware was in there too, but the intruder lockout function in Windows saved me.


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I had a bot like that about 10 years ago

by JamesRL In reply to It sounds like a bot of s ...

My boss came into my office with a worried look. He asked me what I was doing at 2 AM. It was a bot that would track everything I did on the internet and then send it to an ad company who then targeted me for spam. Sent a huge amoutn of data at the same time every night. Took seconds to fix once we identified it.

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