back to article What to do when the users are watching Nazi dwarf smut at work?

Welcome to On-call, our fortnightly look at readers' experiences when called off-site. In our last instalment, we recounted the tale of the reader who sprung a colleague pleasuring herself with cutlery. Which of course prompted readers to send tales about similar indiscretions. Reader Nigel wrote to tell us of his experiences …

  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    How things have moved on

    Now that senior managers can satisfy their unusual preferences at home or via their phones, office keyboards must be a lot cleaner!

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: How things have moved on

      Unless it's a work supplied phone.

      Beware of being offered a non-new phone with an oddly cloudy screen protection film, that's my only advice.

      1. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: How things have moved on

        You get screen protectors for your phones ? Luxury !

        (Scratch that - you get a work-supplied phone ? Luxury !)

    2. Velv Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: How things have moved on

      Joking aside, things have moved on and it's not just about perversions, but pure and simple self preservation.

      You've got to assume all but the smallest companies are logging all traffic, and that everything you do is tracked. So over the course of the day that hour you spend reading the BBC, The Register, etc is now available to your bosses in second by second detail (I employed Lakeside SysTrack as part of an XP replacement programme - what an eye opener!)

      So I don't use any company resources for anything personal these days. I still read the websites during the day, but it's on my own tablet. And given the ancient browsers, lockdowns and slow connections on most company setups, it's more efficient for a lot of my Internet based work research as well.

      1. Cliff

        Re: How things have moved on

        What hasn't changed is the stigma. Nor the blackmail angle.

        "Sorry boss, we'd just installed the new traffic filter and saw all sorts of connections coming across the network, wanted to make sure we didn't have a hacker on the network. By the way, is this a good time to talk about my role in the company?"

        1. Cliff

          Re: How things have moved on

          "... Or should I come back in 5 minutes...?"

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How things have moved on

          we call that the IT Pension fund!

      2. Moosh

        Re: How things have moved on

        I personally still browse personal sites on my work computer - but only during my lunch break. I am, for example, currently browsing El Reg in full view of everyone, with my status set to "Lunch". Many of my colleagues also do this. Obviously no Facebook or the like, but occasionally some Amazon or Ebay browsing, looking up local venues for food and drink, News sites, etc. etc..

        Worst comes to worst it will be noticed that all my trips to these sites happen during a single hour within the day that always starts from between 12-12:30.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had a boss once

    who enjoyed looking at porn at work. The rest of the workforce knew it, and he did not know everyone else knew about it. The browsers did not have private tabs or private windows in those days(more than 15 years ago).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Had a boss once

      Same here. Had to show the guy how to play the movie he downloaded once. On another occasion I found that he had been using my computer to go looking for porn, probably because my computer was the only one with speakers. As it was a really small company (which he owned) I had no ethics hotline to call and report the incident. After some thought, I decided to bring an old pair of speakers from home and connect them to his PC.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The managing director's door was locked, but the chap was clearly inside because he said something to the effect of “Hang on a minute, I'm busy w<cough>king".

  4. malle-herbert Silver badge

    And the moral of the story is :

    Bosses really are w*nkers...

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: And the moral of the story is :


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bit idiotic

    > “The receipt and a photo of a kitten with the words 'Please don't hurt me!' were pinned to the outside of the culprit's door for all to see,”

    a) For all you know anyone could have used the guy's (misspelled) email address, either unintentionally or otherwise.

    b) Even if it was him, that's still an utterly childish thing to do.

    1. dan1980

      Re: A bit idiotic


      It's also a workplace harassment case waiting to happen.

    2. Hellcat

      Re: A bit idiotic

      All bounced email goes to the IT manager's inbox? Seems a bit convenient to me.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Must be pretty common...

    Had a developer who asked for a secondary hard disk to be installed in his PC. Seemed logical at the time due to the project work he was doing. Couple of months later I was in the office late and needed something from that guy's PC. That is when I found that the real use of this hard disk had been to stash a huge Asian Porn collection!

    I formatted and scrubbed the hard disk and left a note in the folder as a warning... he may have been a little upset the next day at that empty folder.

    Different company, similar issue. Working late evening had to get some files from John's PC. I could not work out why he had a whole directory tree that he didn't seem to have ownershop of yet there were many GB of data in there. Instead the folders were all owned by a developer "Timo". So I turned on Timo's PC to find out that he had been quietly stashing his porn on the Financial Director's hard disk via the network... what was especially comical in that case is this dev had been claiming overtime for coming into work in the evenings... (Names changed to protect the not so innocent)

    Now jumping right up to date and my current job as an IT Troubleshooter. New client calls me in to ask why his ISP has noticed his bandwidth sky rocketing over the past months. I install monitoring tools on all office PCs and find nothing of note. That's when I inspect the wireless router... and find a total lack of any password protection of the network!

    When I mentioned this to my client he did reply by saying that most evenings there would be a large number of taxis all parked up on his forecourt...

    1. Cliff

      Re: Must be pretty common...

      Actually quite enterprising of Timo.

      (Remember when memory sticks were that small and expensive? I bought my first 128MB stick when the price broke through the £1/MB barrier, now it's what, maybe 30p/GB?!

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Must be pretty common...

        "Remember when memory sticks were that small and expensive? I bought my first 128MB stick when the price broke through the £1/MB barrier, now it's what, maybe 30p/GB?!"

        Kids today!

        I remember paying about £300 for a 64MB MMC for my Nokia 9110!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Must be pretty common...

      > what was especially comical in that case is this dev had been claiming overtime for coming into work in the evenings

      Well, you launch a long compile, there's none else in the office to have a chin wag with, ...

  7. Chris King Silver badge

    Sometimes, you don't even have to hit the right target...

    In a previous job, I was asked to investigate a problem with internet speed (Megastream 2 for a campus site - 'nuff said), and I discovered that someone had been viewing lots and lots of porn vids at the time the problem occurred.

    So, I passed the information on to the offender's department. To my surprise, TWO people 'fessed up - it seems that two machines had been swapped behind my back, and my records weren't up to date.

    #1 offending IP now belonged to another staff PC, and "words were had" - but the person I had accused turned out to be #3 on the bandwidth report, and he realised that the jig was up.

    I didn't believe on bringing disciplinary action down upon people for stuff like that - departmental secretaries giving academics the "I know what YOU did in the comfort of your office last night" Laser Stare of Doom was far more effective, and meant less paperwork for me.

  8. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    Same old same old...

    I worked a job about 12 years ago working on POS equipment. (both point-of-sale and the other accepted definition for that acronym)

    My counterpart that took care of the network in the corporate office noticed a lot of requests being made to all manner of porn sites. The logging in place was primitive and only showed what was going on with the gateway, not which PC was making the requests. She tried in vain to catch the culprit in the act, but the porn fest was happening at all hours of the day, not just lunchtime or early or late. Eventually, she figured out that our CEO was sitting in his private office surfing porn all day. It must be nice to have that much free time at work. I never asked whether she confronted our fearless leader, but the company went into bankruptcy about 4 years later, by which point I was long gone.

    Re. disgusting keyboards, I once walked up to a user's desk just in time to see him do two open-mouthed violent sneezes all over his desk, monitor, and keyboard. He hadn't seen me, so I quietly backed away and called him instead saying: "I'm waiting on a call, do you mind if I remote in to work on your PC?" We had another user that had a skin condition and his keyboard was inundated with flakes of dead skin that would fall like volcanic ash if you turned over the keyboard. It's also always nice to realize the person in the bathroom stall is surfing on their company iPhone as well. Really, working in IT can be worse for germ exposure than working in a daycare.

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: Same old same old...

      Re: sneezes

      Back in the days of CRTs, I idly ran my finger over a chipped section of a user's screen, only to realise too late that it was actually crusty bits stuck to the screen. Bleugh!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same old same old...

      Skin conditions... reminds me of at least two of my clients with that same flaky skin condition. Only the difference is they use some kind of cream. I think it is paraffin based or something. Whatever the chemical is it eats keyboards! Physically melts the plastic away removing not just the letters from the keys but also the tops of the keys themselves!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same old same old...

      I work in a lab so have access to plenty of lab gloves! We need them with some of our users laptops!

  9. chivo243 Silver badge


    Many years ago, I once was hired to repair a colleague's home PC. She was pretty good with technology. She said Windows updates were failing and the computer was slow. So, there I was trying to install updates, and found the HD was down to a few mb of free space. After searching for the big folders, I found that hubby liked chubby. Gigs upon gigs of fat chicks in a folder in his profile. I quietly packed up my things and told her I couldn't fix the problem without reformatting the HD. And that she should discuss further repairs with hubby.

    Talk about awkward... maybe it's best she wasn't looking over my shoulder the whole time!

    1. Cliff

      Re: Freelance

      You missed a great upsell opportunity there - to the husband who would agreed to the larger hard drive and E1 line just because!

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Freelance


        How right you are, however it was in 2000 or so (many years ago). I hadn't started reading the BOFH and I was still a bit wet behind the ears as far as the IT world. If I still did support in the outside world... Profit!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Years ago

    We had somebody in logistics who, it turned out, was downloading porn after work. But on further investigation it turned out that he was doing this while waiting for late collections when we had been let down by the trucking company let again. As nobody else wanted to do this rather tedious job, I regret to say that I just explained about deleting browser history. It wasn't anything very dreadful, just Asian women who had forgotten their underwear.

    Even so, not long afterwards he went to a much better paid job elsewhere, so perhaps his proclivities encouraged him to progress his career.

  11. ecofeco Silver badge

    Wit and grace?

    Those were some damn lucky employees. Everywhere I've worked that would have been instant on the spot lost job offenses.

    Hell, I've seen people fired for LESS!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wit and grace?

      "Hell, I've seen people fired for LESS!"

      I'm guessing from your spelling that you live in the US, where companies seem to range from extreme license ("I don't mind people watching porn in their lunch breaks provided they send me links to the good bits" - actual quote from small company CEO) to extreme prudery.

      My own view FWIW is that context is everything. If sites aren't blocked and people want to look at legal pornography, that should be their affair. If however they use this to upset other workers - e.g. by ostentatiously talking about it while women walk by - then that is a completely different matter. Same for illegal stuff. It's the public/private dichotomy - if someone is doing something that does no harm to anybody or anything else, it isn't the business of management.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Wit and grace?

        AC, you have guessed correctly. The wide range of rules at different companies can be confusing, but most large US companies are pretty strict about porn at work.

        My personal opinion of porn is that it's a security threat and not very professional at work. That's as far as I care about it. I have also just given warnings even thought it was within my power to report them and probably have them fired. Quite warnings were usually sufficient. I've also been on the wrong end of some seriously anal security admins as well.

  12. OzBob

    My mate ran the web proxy for the IT division of a large multinational

    and noticed some dubious website links in the log history. He followed the path to a fetish website forum where one of the team leads was posting about his proclivities and even posting pictures of himself in the full gimp suit (minus the mask). Given that this guy was in his 50s and not exactly thin, this provided much hilarity to the IT department.

  13. The Mighty Spang


    working for a highly large us comnpany in the uk in mid 90s, there was a mirror server ran by a guy in tech support of some source code trees and public shares by key developers. ****r1\mirror was its name. name removed to protect the innocent but enough to remind people who may not have known what went on..

    one day, it stopped working. for a while. the curious went round to see what was going on. the chap had issued IIRC 'net server stop' whilst he cleared up.

    turns out one of those mirrored developers had a directory of one of his interests, which we would probably call 'bears'. think grizzly adams. naked. and stretching.

    and the job i had straight afterwards had installed ISDN for its more senior members, including my boss. for some reason with no experience I was in charge of this. the fun happened when i discovered the http proxy logs. nothing illegal but it was fun hinting at my boss about the log until he stopped :)

  14. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    When the internet "was new"....

    ... as far as the company I worked for was concerned anyway, I ended up unofficially-officially running the sites web proxy.

    Chatting with the boss from another unit, he was interested in the setup, logging, infrastructure etc.

    Rather than explain, I invited him into my office to show him.

    Whilst showing him the format of the access log, I told him that whilst I didn't actively monitor them, invariably if I was tweaking/debugging, something dodgy would soon pop up.

    [ I'd ignore it. Not my problem. If corporate got wind of it, and wanted to cross-reference my proxy logs with the national proxy logs, so be it, but if not, (and they never did - the whole threat of all accesses being monitored was a bluff), it's up to the persons manager to pick up if the employee is unproductive. ]

    Right on cue, some softcore links popped up. "See? Told you!" I beamed. "Who is it?" he replied. I recognised the IP range as being his teams, and on looking up the specific IP, had to reply "err, it's you"!

    Apparently an employee of his from another site was on site, using the bosses computer to view porn whilst he was away from his desk! I don't think it went any further than a "quiet word"!

  15. MrDamage


    During my stint on a helldesk, I was given the task of monitoring network drive quotas for various divisions to ensure enough space was allocated on an as-needed basis. One division full of financial hi-flyers was constantly running out of room, and always had to have more and more space allocated to them. A wee bit of investigation with the email team also showed that not only were their network shares being clogged up at an unprecedented rate, but their email quotas were being burnt through at a similar rate.

    One night, we stayed back and decided to do some investigating. Turns out that most of the people in this department, both male and female, had a thing for watching our equine friends get overly friendly with the bipedal owners, again, both male and female. Snapshots were taken, logging performed, backups, and then came the purge.

    Next morning, the boss of said department was on the phone, ranting about missing tons of vital information. Myself and the email admin owned up to purging it as we did not believe it was in the best interests of the company to be harbouring said data. His complain went to our manager, then the overall IT manager, up to the CTO, and then the MD. We were asked to give an explanation to the full board of execs why we thought it best to purge important business data. So we plugged a laptop with samples of this data into the projector in the board room, and displayed in full detail, what this important data was.

    I don't know what was more satisfying, the bonus we received for tracking down the "unwarranted business expense", or watching security drag 19 people out, kicking and screaming while we sat in the pub across the road. Probably the latter, as the GM was there as well putting the drinks on his personal card and enjoying the spectacle with us.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't record your proclivities on the corporate laptop webcam

    I once had to deal with a dismissal of a sales representative who was suspected of Industrial Espionage. The CEO asked that the IT department investigate his laptop and I passed it on to our desktop guy at the time.

    After about 20 minutes he asked me to come and see what he had found. No evidence of Industrial Espionage was found whatsoever, however there was a video of him and assumedly an Asian prostitute in a hotel room from a recent business trip.

    After delicately trying to present this to the CEO (female) she insisted on seeing this and laughed out loud. She was happy that she still had enough to sack him with, even if we did not have evidence of the suspected espionage.

    Anonymous for obvious reasons.

  17. lansalot


    Friend gave me her Dad's PC to have a look at as it was behaving oddly. There was a CD in it, which turned out to be a VideoCD (is it #tbt today?).

    Pressed play to see what it was, and was amused to find two attractive young ladies disrobing. Which was all fine and well, until #1 crapped in #2's mouth.

    Power off, back across the landing, "sorry, nothing I can do here", door shut.

    The last thing I wanted was some totally unexpected visit from the rozzers, and that in my possession at the time.

  18. lansalot


    Caught a kid at a school who was trying to be "Mr L33t Haxxor" (mainly, by begging on various forums for someone to teach him how to disrupt the school network). His trail of digital breadcrumbs was quite spectacular.

    His crowning glory was that he'd sent some photos to a guy on the web and then gone "hey, I'm only 16 and that's underage!!! Give me money or I'm telling the police you're a paedo!!!". To which his mark had apparently replied "I'm dutch and 16 is legal here - fuck off".

    One printout of his activities, and he was summoned to the head teachers office. No more internet for you, sunny jim.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Users' mobiles can be fun too

    Especially if they contain pics of the the user's wife when they hand them back when leaving...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a few years ago we had an open access room with half a dozen PC's setup for visitors to use and that had various bits of software not available on user's PC, photoshop and the like. Anyway we had a visit from a couple of students to say they had found some *images* whilst working on one of the PC's (barring in mind they are public open access shared PC's!) So nothing too unusual there we thought a bit of porn you do get that kind of thing. But nope it turns out the images was of another students wife! Which the female student who came to tell us recognised from some of the pics (not the ones of her touching her toes!) Anyway bolloxing given to the student who put pictures of his naked wife on the PC. A few weeks latter my boss the IT manager was in the firewall console doing something when a load of red address started to fill the screen, the said student was in the room again, this time buying something to "cheer his wife up" from Anne Summers! Another bolloxing!

    I also had a IT pension fund incident when I found semi naked pic's of our CEO at the time with his wife that he obviously took using the built in webcam on his, fancy at the time, Sony Vaio.

  21. Daz555

    Several years ago I was contracting for about a year at a small-ish company (50 to 60 people). I was surprised to see no internet filtering in place - at all. Nowt. Completely unfettered access to the Net and all its perversions.

    I asked the MD why and he just said...."you'll see." Well over the course of the year I was asked to bring logs to the MD about individual internet usage. Each time I was asked for the report the same person was sacked the same day.

    He just used it as a way to get rid of staff so had no interest in filtering their access. Of course he only minded what the crap staff were up to. The good ones could watch donkey p0rn for all he cared.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the other side

    Some years back I had worked for a small hosting company (about 90-100 employees), my job was to ensure that sites performed well and that content loaded correctly; and to troubleshoot when things weren't.

    Everything was fine for the first few years I worked there, even getting dedicated to a specific client that was responsible for a very large percentage of our bandwidth (and income). Fast forward a few years and the company had grown enough to bring in a lot more staff and open a new data center. The boss decided to bring in his wife as the head of our new compliance and monitoring division (We were branching out into PCI / SOX territory). So a few weeks later I was called into a conference with HR, I assumed it was that they were giving me a promotion or moving me to the new DC. Walk in to see the HR lady and the boss's wife. So I sit down, confirm my identity to the boss's wife, at which point she just tears into me, practically jumping down my throat about watching lesbian porn at work and how morally reprehensible homosexuality is. During her tirade, she dumps almost an entire ream of paper onto the desk with my entire web history on it pointing out how I've spent the last several years just sitting in my office browsing the same 5 sites day-in and day-out. At no point did she ever let up (I was afraid that she would die of hypoxia right in front of me, given how few breaths she took).

    When she finally finished and asked for my side of the story, I just replied:

    "1) Those 5 sites belong to one of our biggest clients

    2) I am dedicated to ensuring that those sites are fully functional

    and 3) I have no interest in getting the clothes off women except to put something more fashionable on them"

    She certainly didn't like that explanation (Although I assume it has a lot more to do with the third point). A wrongful termination lawsuit later, I had enough money to set up a hosting company and took my client with me (my previous employer tore up the contracts at the request of the boss's wife). My old employer eventual went bankrupt from both mine and the client's lawsuits.

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