Published on June 28, 2005 By averjoe In Personal Computing
I just read an article about someone being fired from his job for blogging. Who would blog from their job? I think blogging from your job or doing anything of a personal nature from your computer at work is kind of foolish.

Anything you do on a computer at a place of employment is subject to the prying eyes of a boss or someone within the IT department.

To write blogs that give away inside company information, talk about co-workers or bosses from that very job is asking for trouble. Chat programs, email, browsing behavior, blogs, and all other things that you do on your computer (like play solitaire) can be discovered by your employer if desired.

In fact when you use your computer at home all that you do that is not encrypted can be discovered by someone on the Internet. It may even be your ISP, but needless to say anything sent or done over the Internet can be discovered.

I was trying to do some research at the local public library and I asked the reference librarian where the periodicals were (do you know what periodicals are and are used for in a library?). She said they had them but instead of showing them to me, she insisted that I use the Internet to do my research. I said, “ no, no I’m computer savvy but I just want to hold something in my hands book like for this”. She didn’t yield and continued to help me with my topic online.

This made me think of all the information that companies that deal in information can gather by what people do online and it also reminded me of how this information can be misused by government entities. Suspicions about you can be raised if you are doing research on the use of the atomic bomb during WWII or even research on nuclear energy for instance.

Don’t think your privacy is secure if you work from home. As I said your ISP can spy on you and if they don’t then there are tons of spyware and other types of computer viruses that can penetrate your computer and do the spying (or destroying).

I can tell you that as of today Microsoft Windows 2000 professional (probablyWindows XP too) can be penetrated and has been penetrated on my computer. Anti-virus programs like McAfee, and Symantec’s Norton anti-virus and firewall programs like Zone Alarm and Sysgate can be penetrated (I must say here that some of the violations of my computer come from the websites that I access-watch the settings on your browser especially as it concerns ActiveX and similar applets. Some violations of my computer can also be traced back to the makers of the software I use to protect my computer). There are also some programs from companies like Creative that create holes in one’s computer allowing viruses and other malicious programs to infect the system.

Spyware programs are the trickiest out there. Dozens of spyware programs are infecting the computers I deal with and a lot of them are pretty stealthy. They are logging and sending out myriad amounts of information about browsing habits and what one does on his or her computer. A lot of spyware programs are not even recognized by anti-virus programs and find it easy to penetrate the firewall installed on your system.

Spyware hunting and destroying programs like Ad-Aware are behind the curve when it comes to the spyware out there and in some instances they don’t even detect old spyware.

Now that I think about it a lot of information is online. I can access my local library from home and all the information about me as a library cardholder can be accessed over the Internet, which theoretically means it is available to all skilled dark hat hackers, script kiddies, and the government if it wants access.

Just think about it, almost all the information about you and your personal business that can be accessed online is at risk of being hacked or can be accessed by an entity during an investigation of you.

From your home computer your browsing habits can be recorded. Do you visit a lot of porn sites? Are you interested in certain medical condition? Other information can be gathered on you. Do you bank from home? Do you use Internet chat programs or email? (this is what spyware does among other things)

There is one way to have secure communications online and that is through encryption (they won’t be able to read what is going on but one can still tell if you visited a banking site for instance). Encrypted email is pretty private and so are all encrypted transmissions (like video) but you should still be aware that your encrypted communications can be somewhere out there in cyberspace where if it is captured and stored in a database can be subject to encryption cracking techniques. Most encryption is hard if not impossible to crack-one can never say never though.

Some software companies write backdoors into their software so they can undo any changes done by their software. They may have what is the equivalent of a master key to unencrypt anything encrypted with their software.

The best advice concerning doing things online at a job is to be aware that Big Brother may be watching. The same advice can be given for what you do on your home computer but at least it won’t be your boss watching.

I wouldn’t get too worried about being watched from home (unless you are a target of law enforcement for some reason). There are too many people online to monitor everyone. It would cost lots of time and money to nosy around everyone’s computer habits (corporations are not generally concerned about the individual they want numbers for statically purposes-the information they gather is in general not user specific).

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