Last weekend some friends and I were having a debate about corporate spyware. The question we asked is “what would you do if you found out your company monitors everything you do on your computer? Every website you visit, every key you press, and even look at your screen remotely from time to time.”
So where did this come from? Well on Friday I noticed my computer running slow, so like all geeks I did a ctrl alt del to see what was using so much memory. It turns out the problem was FireFox, but even more interesting I found a program called “swsys.exe” running. Since I’ve never heard of it, I Googled to see what it was.
Turns out, swsys.exe is part of an application called “Activity Tracker” that allows employers to log all websites, emails, and even keystrokes! It also lets them look at any employee’s screen in real time.
A quick “netstat” command showed my computer currently connected to my Boss’s. A couple setting tweaks, and that was no longer the case That’s where the problem lies.
Over the weekend I talked to some fellow programmers at different companies, and even my old boss. All of them said “screw that, I’d walk out if I found out they were doing that.. that’s shady.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to walk out. When I got home Friday I tried logging in to check my work email. (like I do every weekend – to check for any critical alerts or outages.) When my password wasn’t accepted, I knew what was coming.
I was fired this morning for “performance issues.”
I’m not going to bad talk a previous employer – it’s not something I do. I met some great people at Auto Credit Express and had some great opportunities. Altogether working at ACE helped me grow into a much better programmer than I was when I started almost 2 years ago.
On the flip side, I am glad to no longer be working for a company that engages in these practices. It’s one thing to protect your assets, it’s a totally different issue to not have trust in them to begin with.
Has anybody else experienced software like this at your job? Would you work for such a company? What would you do if you did?