Let me start this post at it's end: DON'T use your workplace's network for private usage, if you don't want it documented.
A few weeks back, a friend of mine has been happily IMing on Live Messenger from his office. During our discussion, he typed "WTF?" (Where's the fire? ) when suddenly the following message popped up on his screen (the name of his company has been removed):
So, not only does "Big Brother" now read his conversations (no doubt saving them for later analysis) but it even decides what's "potentially malicious". Next stop: enforcing political agenda?
My friend has since told me this message has popped up on strange occasions, with absolutely nothing in the conversation's content to invite it. So either the filtering algorithm is screwed up, or, even more disturbingly, those messages are shot out by smart asses in his IT department manually.
Ok, so I've learned my lesson: I either avoid IMing on my corporate network altogether, or I use Pidgin, which connects to all major IM networks (Live/MSN, Yahoo, GTalk, AOL) AND allows encrypting the messages' content (get it here) - which, of course, means convincing the other side to switch to Pidgin as well.
But today, I saw the following ad in PC Magazine, for Spector 360 - "Company Wide Employee Monitoring software" (does this come straight out of KGB Software Inc.?). And here are the major selling points of said software:
To me, this is spyware all over again. Only this time, you actually pay for it (rather than getting it off an unidentified email attachment).
Use the list above as a warning sign. Don't do any of the above in your office.
I especially like #5: "your employees have realized they are working for someone who spies on them, and are trying to leave. Get the jump on them and fire them before they manage to find a new job".
Couple this office spying with the fact that more and more employers follow your out-of-office online life as well (see item 1 in this digest) and you start getting the feeling nobody is safe.
But then, I'm sure all records end up on a big NSA disk somewhere anyhow.
3 years ago, Sun's CEO, Scott McNeally was quoted saying "What privacy? Privacy is dead".
Guess the man knew what he was talking about .
Finally, let me recommend this excellent Slate article titled "Secret Surfing: How to keep prying eyes away from your Web browser, e-mail, and IM".