back to article Telling your wife why you were fired is the only punishment

Welcome again to On-Call, our weekly feature in which readers share stories of being asked to do stupid things at stupid times. And frequently for stupid people. Last week's tale of the smut stash in a hidden directory produced a few similar stories. Reader “BY” wrote to tell of a friend we'll call “Terry” who did IT support …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Maybe they were right

    “having to tell his wife he was fired and why would be enough punishment.”

    You have not met the wife, so you are a bit quick in your judgement. There are cases when this would indeed be the harsher punishment you know.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe they were right

        Also, the "Call-the-police grade filth" referred to to in the article could cover a wide spectrum.

        (1) At one end you've got things that most people would think are- or should be- legal whether they're into it or not but Theresa May and her Tory chums in parliament have made otherwise.

        (2) Then you've got the "that's got to be illegal and I really, *really* don't need to see it again personally, but it appears to be consenting adults and I'm not going to see someone's life wrecked over it so long as they keep their weird fetish private in future and cover the cost of the eye bleach". Or something you suspect might be borderline questionable, but may well be harmless and- again- isn't worth ruining someone's life over.

        Somewhere between (1) and (2) lies (as Cardinal Richelieu never said), "If one would give me the porn collection of the most well-adjusted man, I would find something in them to have him locked up as a sexually deviant threat to society and your children."

        Then there's (3) the genuinely unpleasant stuff (e.g. child abuse, etc.) that no-one could reasonably justify and might indicate more serious activities beyond the acquisition of the porn itself.

        And I'm not sure which category the "filth" in the story refers to. I'm hoping it's category (2) at worst, since anything in (3) would be hard to justify not reporting to the police.

    2. Tim Jenkins

      Re: Maybe they were right

      Just wondering, in this kind of situation, is it worse explaining to the wife that they were pictures of her, or of someone else?

      Asking on behalf of a friend. Obviously.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe they were right

        Just wondering, in this kind of situation, is it worse explaining to the wife that they were pictures of her, or of someone else?

        If your wife is like this?

        Caption competition: I am divided between "Who is the monster?" and "Glass ceiling, what glass ceiling, there used to be one until I smashed it throwing the guy next to me through it"

  2. chrullrich

    If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

    ... don't look at them. There. That was easy.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

      Like they say on Futurama, you've just watched it, you can't un-watch it.

      Back in the late 90's I worked at a school, who had content filters then? A very nice girl's computer froze, I was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, due to the scene that was frozen on the screen! It also bordered on call the police...

      I had no choice but see it...

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

        ... but how can you tell not to watch something, if you don't know what it is?

        At the start of my career I was doing MIS. Marketing often wanted new information from MIS (new reports etc), so I had to at least open their emails. Even if they were sometimes unrelated to job, there was usually nothing wrong with them. Until one day, a seemingly normal person from marketing sent me two pictures so awful that I cannot forget them, to this day. It was 25 years ago.

        1. Anonymous IV

          Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

          @ Bronek Kozicki

          > ...a seemingly normal person from marketing...

          I think I have identified your misidentification...

    2. RIBrsiq
      Thumb Up

      Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

      "...don't look at them".

      Thank you for pointing out the obvious.

      I always wonder about this. You see, on all machines I ever used, images, videos and other files never spontaneously open themselves! So why do so many tech support people seem to have this issue?

      Needless to say, all types of autoplay, thumbnails or anything similar should be disabled. Especially on a machine one's using to poke files that almost certainly contain bio-hazards of various types.

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

        So why do so many tech support people seem to have this issue?

        1) Natural human curiosity sometimes. You know, the sort of enquiring attitude that enables problem solving and development of tech skills.

        2) Because if you're going to free up space or wipe drives, it is sensible to do a dip check on what is about to be nuked. Thinking about that backup server, which was better practice - delete whilst whistling and reading the sport pages of the paper, or have a guick gander at why there's a lot of stuff clagging up the drive?

        So unless somebody can use genetic modification to breed a "curiously incurious" subspecies of techy, then we live with the fact that if a file, a folder, a box, or a room is there, people will open it to see what it is. This is a behaviour that goes back long enough to be the subject of ancient Greek fables, so I don't see it being fixed anytime soon.

        1. chivo243 Silver badge

          Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

          One time I worked on a friend's computer, and all I needed to see was the name of the files.... I didn't need thumbnails or previews... To this day when he visits, I make him bring the mind bleach (beer or scotch ;-} )

        2. RIBrsiq
          Facepalm

          Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

          >> 1) Natural human curiosity sometimes. You know, the sort of enquiring attitude that enables problem solving and development of tech skills.

          Poking in other people's files is not curiosity. Look it up, sometime. I believe you'll find the actual word you were looking for is "nosiness".

          While you have your dictionary handy, there is this other concept you should probably also lookup: privacy, respect thereof.

          >> 2) Because if you're going to free up space or wipe drives, it is sensible to do a dip check on what is about to be nuked.

          And why would anyone but whoever owns the files make any decisions regarding what to keep or not? Either get authorization to delete everything, or demand enough disk space to backup it up. It's the only way to avoid "yes, but you know I use [XYZ] and should have kept its files for me!" and similar situations. Not to mention that it's the only way to get stuff done in anything resembling a reasonable amount of time.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

            @RIBrsiq on a company owned work computer there's very little right to privacy, none for activities you aren't authorised for (like a secret porn stash). Investigating such discoveries might even be considered an obligation.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

              "on a company owned work computer there's very little right to privacy, "

              There may, however, be files that are above your pay grade or otherwise out-of-bounds such as personal data.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

        I always wonder about this. You see, on all machines I ever used, images, videos and other files never spontaneously open themselves! So why do so many tech support people seem to have this issue?

        I can give you a semi-hypothetical answer to that.

        Recently a colleague of mine passed away from a serious bicycle accident, and a close friend of his asked if I could look and see if he might've had some photos they could use at his funeral on his laptop.

        So as you could imagine, I was doing a find $HOME -type f -name \*.jpg (yes, he was a Linux user, as are most of us in our workplace), and having a quick squiz at anything that looked promising. In this instance, I did not find anything traumatising, and frankly he wasn't that sort of person, but the risk of that sort of thing happening and seeing something that could not be unseen was very real. (In case you're wondering, I did find some photos that I was able to pass on.)

        Sometimes the nature of the task at hand means you are rifling through someone's personal files looking for a photo or image, and you can't always rely on the file name.

        1. RIBrsiq

          Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

          >> Recently a colleague of mine passed away from a serious bicycle accident, and a close friend of his asked if I could look and see if he might've had some photos they could use at his funeral on his laptop.

          Sorry for your loss, first.

          Second, surely it's obvious that it's not the same when one has explicit permission, no? Or if, say, it's a found laptop which's owner one is trying to determine, etc. But even then I personally would expect the person with the unfortunate task of going through the files to have the tact to not blab (or complain) about anything they see...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

            But even then I personally would expect the person with the unfortunate task of going through the files to have the tact to not blab (or complain) about anything they see...

            Indeed. The file would disappear, simple as that. I might accidentally make some verbal comment on seeing the image (hey, I'm only human), but then it would be gone before anyone came over to see for themselves and I'd not be discussing it further.

            As I say though, thankfully this has not been necessary.

        2. Yag

          "you can't always rely on the file name."

          "Hello.jpg? This is probably the splash screen to use for the new company website."

          (Disclaimer : If you don't know what "hello.jpg" was, don't look it up I envy you...)

          1. Someone_Somewhere

            Re: "you can't always rely on the file name."

            Don't look up 'blue waffles disease' either!

            That which has been seen cannot be unseen.

        3. The First Dave

          Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

          That doesn't really alter the fundamental point - none of us know the exact odds, but we _all_ know that if you look through other people's stuff for long enough you are going to find something 'unexpected' and you really should be prepared for anything, or refuse the job.

      3. Someone_Somewhere

        Re: So why do so many tech support people seem to have this issue?

        Because it's their /job/ to work out if the data that was significant enough to back up but has since been deleted from the system is:

        a) still significant enough to keep backed up.

        b) significant enough to restore because it shouldn't have been deleted in the first place.

        Duh!

        1. RIBrsiq
          Coat

          Re: So why do so many tech support people seem to have this issue?

          >> on a company owned work computer there's very little right to privacy

          >> Because it's their /job/ to work out if the data that was significant enough to back up but has since been deleted from the system

          You are, of course, both right.

          Most of what I wrote is intended for the general case of "you'll never guess what I found on this [laptop/PC/mobile] once brought in to be fixed!". Those guys/gals I absolutely abhor: if someone trusts you with their secrets -- even if inadvertently -- try to act just a little trustworthy.

          But that really makes my posts somewhat off-topic, doesn't it...?

          1. Someone_Somewhere
            Unhappy

            Re: if someone trusts you with their secrets

            Unfortunately human nature means that the only way to keep a secret is not to tell it to anyone in the first place and it's naive to imagine that things will end well for you if you do.

            Sad but true.

    3. Sir Sham Cad

      Re: don't look at them.

      As part of an investigation I was asked to carry out a few years ago I had to spend half a day retracing the browsing habits of an employee. A full morning of having to go through and categorise someone elses porn habits including a site that I didn't bother trying to get past the big "FBI has impounded this web page, it is a criminal offence to go any further" splash page.

      If I could possibly have avoided looking at the content I would have but, you know, sometimes it's part of the job.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: don't look at them.

        As part of an investigation I was asked to carry out a few years ago I had to spend half a day retracing the browsing habits of an employee. A full morning of having to go through and categorise someone elses porn habits including a site that I didn't bother trying to get past the big "FBI has impounded this web page, it is a criminal offence to go any further" splash page.

        There's not enough money in the world to make me do that, CP being a strict liability offence. FBI might have shut some of them down, but even the remotest risk of possessing content like that, even if ordered to do it to examine someone else's habits would have me going to the boss man and saying "No more - if *you* want to see what he was looking at, here are the URLs".

    4. foxyshadis

      Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

      You'd think having a strong stomach would be an occupational hazard; I've never met any tech who hadn't browsed /b/ out of curiosity, not to mention been linked to goatse and other things all their life. By the same token you'd think that in an internet awash in porn, you wouldn't need a little titillation from selfies, but apparent some guys have a stronger creep factor and need to know their spank bank in person.

    5. Paul Woodhouse

      Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

      Unless of course your workmates are arseholes and have very small thumbnails that they call you over to have a look at and then blow it up right in your face when your trying to peer at it...

    6. eriksolo

      Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

      I worked for a webhosting company. One of my many jobs was looking into reports of copyright infringement in the "Abuse" department.

      I had to look. I had to compare.

      That was when I discovered that Pakistani Eunuch Porn was a thing. An often copyrighted thing.

      1. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

        Mate, they don't pay you enough for that. You could be as well-compensated as Bill Gates and they don't pay you enough for that.

    7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: If you don't want to be traumatised by people's pictures ...

      Exactly. Even doing data recovery there's usually no need to open up and examine other peoples files. Either the data got recovered or it didn't. The owner/user can check that for themselves. And from the story, the phone repair stuff probably wasn't actual data recovery so they almost certainly should not have been trawling through the data.

      I'm not saying it's always wrong to examine the data. It depends on the situation, the value of the data and how important an intact recovery is, eg re-assembling files from sectors, especially if we are talking corporate kit but it's really quite rare to have to open image files or try complex (and expensive!) recovery strategies on private/personal/retail customer kit.

      Having said that, 20 years ago when I first got into IT as a break/fix guy, one of our workshop people came across some images that got an immediate call to the Police and a carefully worded call to the customer (under Police instruction) to tell him it was "worse than we though, we need to order some parts to fix it, might take a week" while the cops examined the HDD duplicate we made for them before they took the whole PC away with them. Never did find out what happened, but based on what the workshop guy told us there was almost certainly some prison time involved.

  3. Christoph Silver badge

    Many people have been arrested after they took their computer in for repair and criminal-level porn was found.

    The (mostly) blokes who do the repairs do have a tendency to search for *.jpg to see if there's anything juicy that they can copy off. Not all of them, but enough that assuming they won't is a very bad idea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Many people have been arrested after they took their computer in for repair and criminal-level porn was found.

      Gary Glitter.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Gary Glitter."

        And if, after that, you have a faulty PC with your financial records on it would you have taken it into that branch of PC World for repair?

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith

          I bought a new HDD and did a full system backup, only to then find the thing was faulty on checking it. (You do check your backups actually work, right?)

          It's lost money - no way is a copy of my entire electronic life going back to the supplier. Accounts, key codes, etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Computer repair and porn

        I always remove the drives before sending the computer for servicing. If it is a software problem I sort it myself if it is hardware the shop can do it without the drives just give them a newly created and never used Linux USB to boot it off.

        I don't know what the wife or the kids might have been looking at and I am not taking any chances.

        1. JLV Silver badge

          Re: Computer repair and porn

          That's also what a TrueCrypt mount is for. Unlike a full-drive encryption unmount it and the rest of your machine is available for troubleshooting.

          I think, but I am unsure the trade offs, that it may also be secure than a full-drive encryption. You lose in non-encrypted swap memory files and on stolen machines. But you gain when you consider that your drive is only decrypted when you mount it. My TC is only open while I need to access confidential files (not porn, that's another story) and malware can only get in then. If you get infected, but subsequently quickly find the malware, you've dodged the bullet.

          Unlike full disk encryption where anything running with your rights can look at your files.

          Doesn't help with encryption ransomware however.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Computer repair and porn

          "I always remove the drives before sending the computer for servicing. If it is a software problem I sort it myself if it is hardware the shop can do it without the drives just give them a newly created and never used Linux USB to boot it off."

          You & I can do that. Most people can't.

  4. R Soles

    I doubt it

    "Management cut Terry a break: because he'd been a good worker they deleted the files and kept the police out of it. Their logic? By says “having to tell his wife he was fired and why would be enough punishment.”

    It's a nice story but

    1. Not even HR managers are stupid enough to think he'd tell his wife the real reason why he was fired

    2. No manager would expose their company to such a risk: imagine "Terry" gets arrested in the future for similar activities. The first thing he does is wreak revenge on the company that fired him by revealing all.

    The police arrive at company's premises and confiscate all servers and backups, and start interviewing the managers about destroying evidence relating to a criminal offence.

    1. foxyshadis

      Re: I doubt it

      What cops are going to fully believe the word of an avowed pedophile? He can blab, they can come by and ask some questions, but absent any corroborating evidence, the investigation would be dropped as an attempt to deflect blame.

      Maybe if it happened a few times in a row, someone would issue a warrant, but if all the data's been long purged, there's not much they can do there, either.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: I doubt it

          But don't companies do that all the time? Think Fiduciary Responsibility...

          Yeah... it's still not right.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @foxyshadis

        R Soles: "No manager would expose their company to such a risk"

        foxyshadis: "What cops are going to fully believe the word of an avowed pedophile?"

        Regardless of his morality or lack of it, your average risk-averse manager just isn't going to gamble the company- or rather, his position within it- by relying on something like that. There's the possibility (or probability) that there's a lot more going on beyond what he already knows and the whole thing could be a can of worms that explodes and could end up implicating them via a million different routes.

        1. Old Handle

          Re: @foxyshadis

          Perhaps calling the police didn't seem like an entirely risk-free option either. After all the files were found on company computers. Isn't it possible the police are going to show up and say "we better take all this kit back to the station, no telling where else he may have stashed files." And then through no fault of their own, the company is up the creek.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I doubt it

      @R Soles

      Not quite: If they can't prove who put the images there then the only thing they can do is suggest they do have proof but are going to be 'nice', if he choses to go voluntarily. AKA, it was a bluff. And no, they can't use his resignation as 'proof' either as he could claim he felt he couldn't defend himself, even though he was innocent. Honest. It was just the shock and the shame that *someone* had framed him like that - how could he trust the company any more?

      Chain of custody is important in legal cases, and all too often it's broken at the beginning when a Tech takes a look in a folder and finds something dodgy. That's why bluffing is so important to the police: If they can convince you they have proof, then they can get you to confess to 'make it easy on yourself'.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BTDT, shuddered at the pics.

    My boss at the time asked me to fix her corporate laptop as it was "running very slow".

    I dutifully accepted the machine, made an immediate image of the HDD, & began debugging what might have been the cause.

    Memory still tight in their sockets, cables snug in their sockets, fans spinning up nicely, memtest & HDD tests indicate no problems, but it's still slow as molassus running uphill in a blizzard.

    Examine the loaded software to make sure it's pure corporate (so I can uninstal anything that's not) & find that the Windows Image widget is choking on attempting to load something as a background process.

    What is it loading, why is it trying to load it, & can I make it stop? Process Viewer, find the process, kill it, tell the image widget to stop loading automaticly, and reboot.

    The desktop wallpaper immediately reverts to a solid colour backdrop as the image widget stops trying to render the background image that had been choking it.

    Visit the folder where the images are stored & find it chock, mind boggling, smegheaddingly full of pictures with file names in a sequence (abc00001.jpg, abc00002.jpg, etc).

    What are these images & why are they causing the widget to choke? They're single frame, stop motion stills of a video that someone had converted to individual images in an attempt to capture said video so they could use individual images as backgrounds. But she's selected *all* of them to be rendered, the widget is merely taking forever to churn through the massive que before displaying the first (of zillions) of pictures.

    It's a capture of a porn film involving a horse, and there is NO way in HELL that it's appropriate for a corporate laptop.

    I set the default background to a solid color, delete the entire series of sequential images, make sure the machine is running smoothly again, & hand it back.

    When she asked the cause of the problem I told her as tactfully as I could that "it grew hoarse trying to swallow that load of happy horse apples".

    I'm sure my pay raise was just a coincidence, just like her request for any back up I might have made to be purged.

    I purged the backup & tried to keep a straight face whenever she'd make a comment about no horseplay at the office.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Was her name Catherine? I bet she was a Great boss!

      Is this for real?!

      Even if someone was into that kind of thing, why on earth would they try to set it as the background image on a corporate laptop they'd be using for work..?!

    2. Triggerfish

      Re: BTDT, shuddered at the pics.

      Now I have this going through my head.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzYzVMcgWhg

      1. Drem

        Re: BTDT, shuddered at the pics.

        @Triggerfish

        I've not clicked on that link, I can guess with 99% certainty what it is, and I don't need that earworm stuck in my head today.

      2. Someone_Somewhere

        Re: Now I have this going through my head.

        The remedy for that particular ailment is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWFBqiUgspg

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just do NOT do this on work kit

    What puzzles me is the stupidity of people doing this at work.

    FFS, if you're so inclined, do it at home. At one point, I was project security manager for a company whose IT systems were under construction. The rules for everyone were simple: work kit is for work. If we give you an account, it is for work purposes and data you hold there is also work. We're talking about a major, well known brand that is rightfully VERY careful about its image and anything that is associated with it.

    A couple of weeks into the project, I get an email from the people managing the core mail relay that they have caught an image that should really not be associated with the brand. As the project security manager, I get tasked by the CEO to investigate if this image indeed originates from the sender, and if the sender has more of this stored.

    I log in as admin and soon find a subdirectory with pictures that are, well, let's call them "not exactly work related" but relatively tame, not "call the police NOW" level. They're the sort of images you'd receive from a friend with a mildly shady sense of humour, but he *sent* it.

    The problem: mild as they are, the images do not belong there, nor should they have been transmitted from an account in name of the organisation so I now have to report back to the CEO (and HQ which is by now involved) about someone who otherwise does good work and - as the rest of the images show - has a family with little kids. The person involved is a contractor, so I know there will not even be a disciplinary stage, it'll go immediately to pack-your-bags-and-go. Over one stupid picture.

    So let me repeat this: if you're so inclined, don't use work facilities for it, even for stuff that is probably "funny" like goatse and also be very careful with re-transmitting such stuff if you receive it (VERY common mistake). Especially brand managers don't have a sense of humour, and having worked with publicity teams I also understand why - especially with well known brands the press is really waiting for something they can blow up, using the brand name in the headlines to make the story sell.

    Please, use common sense. It's not hard.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Just do NOT do this on work kit

      Right? Work computer? That's some serous stupid.

  7. Someone_Somewhere

    Re: Please, use common sense.

    > It's not hard.

    If you have any that is - common sense: so rare it should be considered a superpower.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've had a couple of incidents in the past 18 years working at our site. About 15yrs ago our director had a new Sony Vaio laptop with a built in camera, bit of a novelty back then. Anyway he had problems with it brought it in to us to look at, we had a placement student working for us at the time doing 1st line support so he took a look. Found a pic of said director and his wife (wife was totally naked, he had shirt and socks on!) Anyway that went straight in to the IT pension fund! You never know when these tings might come in handy.

    We had an open access computer room with about 6 PC's in it for anyone with an ID to use. A PhD student came to us with a delicate matter, they had found some pictures on one of the PC's. Anyway we went to have a look with the student and by this time he had be joined by his girlfriend (also a PhD student). Then came the immortal words uttered by the girlfriend when she saw the pictures. "I know her that's xxxxxx wife!" xxxxxx was another Phd Student at our lab. And xxxxx's wife was obviously just bending over to pick something up that she had dropped and happened to have no cloths on at the time! He got a stern talking to by my boss. Then about a month later a load of red flew up on the firewall monitoring screens that my boss happened to have opened at the time. Traced it to student xxxxxx who was trying to buy some female entertainment devices for his wife from some online sex shop. Another stern talking to.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A few mergers ago, let's see, in the late 90s sometime, I got the laptop of our former female system administrator after she'd been made redundant and pursued a new opportunity. I logged in to clean it up and saw the recycle bin was full. Took a peek at what could possibly be hundreds of megs.... and it was porn. I was shocked. I knew she was a bad sysadmin but forgetting to empty the recycle bin after you've deleted all your porn? Not knowing how to delete it directly without it going to the recycle bin??

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Use your own machine!

    I've never understood why people get caught surfing for porn on a company machine. If it's not your machine, assume someone is recording everything you do on it. They probably aren't, but it's a good precaution anyway. Use a cheap 2nd hand laptop or an iPad for porn.

    I once found someone else's dick pics on a camera memory card when I was trying to recover a photo I'd deleted. I can't say for certain it was the person I'd lent the camera to, but posting anonymously just in case :).

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Use your own machine!

      I will never understand why anyone views porn at work. On the company PC no less!

      FFS!

      1. Kmgriffi

        Re: Use your own machine!

        Hey there, actual woman in IT for over 20 years. They do it at work SO their wife won't find it.

  11. goodjudge

    Curiosity controlled

    Doesn't matter if it's home or work, the stars may just hit an unlucky alignment. A few years back a friend's flatmate was heading home (abroad) and offered to sell my friend his laptop. Friend asked me to have a look over it. It was running quite slowly so I checked the % hard drive use - nearly full. So I did a search on all files over (I think) 50Mb. Up came a long list of movies, many with filenames that were definitely borderline. I immediately shut it down and my friend politely declined the offer...

  12. Florida1920 Silver badge
    Coat

    “That was the year a lot of us discovered Scotch.”

    All in all a good year, then!

    The one with the Bruichladdich in the pocket.

  13. ma1010 Silver badge
    Pint

    I ran into this sort of thing once

    About 13 years ago, I took over as the IT guy in a medium-sized business. The computer I was using had LOTS of viruses and malware, which made me wonder a bit about my predecessor. Then I saw the directory PORN with several sub-directories. I noticed a couple with names like GAY and BESTIALITY, and I decided I really did not want to view any of the content. I just nuked the PORN directory and all its sub-directories, then started cleaning up the viruses and malware. Took me about a week to get the computer cleaned up (no backups, of course). Also did a wipe of all slack space, just to make sure it was really gone.

    Beer icon because it's Friday, and I could have used one after just seeing the sub-directory names, much less the contents.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: I ran into this sort of thing once

      "hen I saw the directory PORN with several sub-directories. I noticed a couple with names like GAY and BESTIALITY, and I decided I really did not want to view any of the content."

      As someone has already noted, even viewing CP makes you a criminal in some places, so if you do have something to hide (like a passwords file, or financial data) then hiding it in a directory that any sane person is reasonably afraid to enter is (possibly) a good idea. You can also encrypt it if you like, on the grounds that anyone smart enough to decrypt it is probably smart enough to understand how bad it could be to decrypt something before you know what it is.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I ran into this sort of thing once

        "As someone has already noted, even viewing CP makes you a criminal in some places, "

        Worse, just being in possession is a criminal offence. You don't even have to know it's there. After all, how can you prove you didn't download it?

        1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: I ran into this sort of thing once

          That was pretty much my experience of finding CP on a clients machine in for repair.

          I'd already cloned the drive, and was running data recovery on the clone when some filenames looked... wrong.

          So I checked a couple of images, and it was clearly a case of "Go Directly to Jail, do not pass Go".

          I went to the MD, and said that we a) should call the cops and b) get a lawyer post haste. He quibbled for about 30 seconds (could I be sure, valuable client, family man etc) at which point I declared that for protecting myself *I* would call the cops, and the company can make it's own call. We called the cops together.

          The cops where very good, and did warn me/us that while in their opinion we where innocent, that the decision to prosecute was up to the CPS, and that we where technically guilty of possession and potentially distribution, depending exactly how cloning a drive would be viewed.

          Gave statements, handed over the dodgy laptop, the cloned data and purged everything else. CPS got in contact after a few weeks to tell us we where in the clear as the guilty party had confessed and plead guilty.

          It's the story I give when I have to explain why I can be funny about doing even minor illegal activities for an employer. Dodging licence fees and CP are quite different ends of the scale, but both are against the law.

          "After all, how can you prove you didn't download it?" is a very good point :) the best way is to behave like a honest and innocent (of that anyway) person and immediately call the authorities, fully co-operate, and be prepared to hire a legal representative to cover your arse. And pray the guilty party confesses.

          The guy got 8 years, and should be out now.

  14. Mark 110 Silver badge

    Check your attachments

    Reminds me of the time a rather good looking PMO girl was sending the monthly report she was tasked with to the whole of the Programme office at a well known FMCG manufacturer. A couple of hundred people on the distro list. And instead of the report she attached a picture of her tits taken on the laptop webcam . . . .

    She tried to recall the message but we all know how reliable that Outlook feature is!!

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Check your attachments

      Oops!

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Check your attachments

      Sounds like she needs to keep abreast of current best practices.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smut Server

    I had the dubious pleasure of discovering that a former employees test server had in fact been doing duty as a pay-porn web server for quite some time. I considered informing management and then remembered that old saying about the bearer of bad news, so a quick FDISK /MBR and a complete repartitioning and a format or 2 soon got rid of the evidence. Gawd knows how long he'd been using company hardware and company bandwidth for personal gain. I would imagine that quite a few of his paying customers would have been screaming mad too.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Smut Server

      Wouldn't it be fun if this was a more clever than usual vengeance ploy by an aggrieved "downsizee"?

      Would bring new meaning to the phrase "revenge porn".

  16. theOtherJT

    Stupid things, stupid times...

    To take a break from all the smut related ones, I still think the stupidest thing I've ever been asked to do at work was remove a pair of lesbian ducks* and their duckling from a lecture theatre.

    The logic, apparently, was that they had gotten into the lectern and were disrupting the ability of a lecturer to use the computer, and it was ergo an IT issue.

    It turns out that ducks defending a duckling won't run away from you so as to stop you touching them, but will go absolutely fucking mental once you pick them up and try and carry them away from their charge.

    *Yeah, you read that right. If you want to read up on the breeding habits of the common mallard duck, feel free, it's pretty surreal reading.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Stupid things, stupid times...

      Ducks are... weird. In fact, such mating habits would get you blackballed at every gentlemen's club (with the possible exception of tne Army and Navy Club).

  17. 2Fat2Bald

    They need to be cautious...

    I personally wouldn't delete the images. I'd report it to the Police and allow them to deal with it. Unfortunately - deleting the images is - of course - concealing, altering, destroying or damaging the evidence in what might become a criminal investigation. In other words, how do you fancy having to explain to *your* wife, your kids, any future employers, the PTA and so on that you were fired from your last job for "destroying evidence against a sex offender"?

    You might think "Nobody will ever know" - and you're probably right. BUT: - If that guy gets caught down the road and it somehow comes out that you had the images and didn't report it, you could end up in a world of hurts yourself. Maybe just if someone with knowledge of the matter gets downsized and decides to report it out of spite? Maybe if your systems become part of an

    investigation into an unrelated matter and these are discovered by accident during that?

    That's the entirely practical reason. The other one is that he's the arbiter of other's people's misery, so **** him.

  18. bombastic bob Silver badge

    linux VM on a windows server

    At the time, I was doing linux kernel development (drivers, specialized firmware, etc.). As the linux kernel has case-sensitive files in it, some of which have name clashes with other files [if case-sensitivity is NOT in your source code repository], we had to install the source code repository software onto a Linux machine. Well, we were using a few VMs by then, being (often) cheaper than actual hardware, but for some odd reason we were told to CREATE THE LINUX VM for the repository on a WINDOWS SERVER COMPUTER, because, *ahem*, it was MORE RELIABLE that way. [it was previously hosted on the SAME windows box, which wasn't hosting ANY OTHER VMs at the moment, or anything important at all, as I recall]. Turning that windows server machine OFF and then replacing with a Linux server would PROBABLY have cost less, too. But NOooo... we had to put Linux in a VM to host the source repository, then host it on a WINDOWS SERVER computer.

    Yeah. "More reliable." Well, my supervisor was a fan of C-pound, ".Net" and Windows Vista, too...

  19. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Dead and dying children at work

    I was hired as a Business Consultant at a firm in the Netherlands, and then demoted to SysAdmin because my Scottish accent was too strong. I wasn't happy at that, and I never wanted to be the PC police especially in a country where laws and attitudes towards sex were so different.

    Engineers and salesmen would dial in to use the (then) high speed and free office internet rather than take out an account of their own. Even the ones with their own internet connections would view porn via the office presumably as they assumed it gave them more plausible deniability. The company internet server cache was massive, and at least three quarters of it was porn, as I found out when I had to investigate exorbitant charges from our ISP. It was hard to look at any of my co-workers the same way, especially the women. I sent out a memo to everyone explaining what a cache is, and asking them not to view anything they wouldn't want me to have to view, and instantly the internet bill was halved (and nobody could look at me either).

    I've had a few experiences of being surprised or shocked by porn at work, but nothing close to "call the police", maybe I'm just deviant. I worked for an imaging/workflow company once, and they were trying to prove their system to a local NHS, so I was made to scan in and process sample medical records they provided, perhaps illegally. That was the most traumatic two days I ever spent at work. All the records were dead and dying children: X rays, photos, case-notes, etc. When you lot talk about things you can't unsee, well nothing I saw hadn't already been seen by a dozen doctors and nurses who probably see that sort of thing every week. They have all my respect, because decades later just thinking about it has me crying and reaching for the brandy.

    I was asked to fix a Belgian guys laptop once, it was running slow. AVG identified over 37,000 viruses on it. That was unusually high so I went to delete the internet cache, and it had already been deleted but all the sites were still there - IP numbers rather than URLs, all Russian. He'd been engaged to a local woman who privately accused him of being a paedophile, and I'd seen him groom, kiss and even lick her daughter, I was certain she was correct. I didn't have enough evidence against him to phone the police, but I kept tabs on him. He later joined a social group where he had access to their children as a figure of trust, so I warned them about him. He had me charged by the police for doing that. They dropped my prosecution when I mentioned I had a recording of his ex-fiancee discussing his behaviour.

    On a US magazine website I recently had my first conversation with someone who admitted to being a reformed paedophile, which I found very interesting. I'm a hang'em and flog'em guy when it comes to adult abusers, so it was informative finally being able to "Ask me anything". I think I have a better understanding of it now but I'd still recommend that if you can take action against someone who is a child-abuser, or even against someone who gets off on images or video of child-abuse, then you should do what you can. According to the honest paedophile I talked to, one thing does lead to another worse thing.

  20. OzBob

    Some wayne-kerr in my office

    (IT division of large car manufactuer) sent through a pair of photoshopped pictures of the queen and her mother, sitting naked at a table from the waist up (Oh god, I hope they were photoshopped, the bodies were appropriate for their age). I was naturally deliriously happy, as this must have been a sacking offence and I hated the prick. Strangely he only got a warning and had to make an email apology to whoever received the files. Must have had some managers balls in his hands to be that untouchable.

  21. John Tserkezis

    I recall an answering machine that had come in for repair, and as part of the repair, you test by listening and perhaps recording something.

    On this particular box, prior to repair, said boyfriend tried calling said girlfriend while she was out.

    However, as time went on and on, he got drunker and drunker, and the messages got angrier and angrier.

    Turns out she had been assisting a friend who had gone into hospital well into the wee hours, and that in part was the last message of the saga.

    It doesn't happen very often, but quite amusing when it does.

  22. Kmgriffi

    Again, actual woman, in IT for over 20 years. Trouble started with Windows 2000, when directories with image files automatically turned thumbnails on. I work for an organization that does GIS & mapping, so had big monitors, so thumbnails were recognizable. When moving the clueless to a new computer, you plumb the depths of the filesystem, looking for stuff they need, but "dropped" somewhere odd. What I tell horrified "Women in IT" conference groups, you just shut up and do your job. The years you spent building trust with your users? The possibility that a woman will ever be hired in that position again if you complain? I WILL gossip about the porn collectors, generally something to the effect of "Doesn't make me want to touch HIS keyboard."

    BTW, NEVER found porn on a woman's computer.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had this happen here

    Found old antique Gateway Windows 2000 laptop, broken.

    Needless to say it got stripped of everything salvageable but the hard drive got put in a box marked "Burn/Shred".

    Got it out a while back and decided then and there to nuke all drives received THE SECOND I GET THEM!!!! if they are mostly unused as it had Class A filth crawling out of the account I'd created to see if the install was in any way usable on the test machine it got installed into.

    This was "OMGWTFGONNAGETBUSTED" level, Do not Pass Go, felt guilty just holding the drive.

    Drive got sent on its merry way along with the placard with the Windows sticker on it and the WiFi card so hopefully someone is doing time now as a result.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem is

    If the punishment for reporting the pr0n/NSFL/etc is equal that the punishment for just wiping it, then the problem is with the system being broken.

    The correct thing to do would be to clone the drive with a reliable encrypted backup, then send a copy to a trusted third party with the instructions to send the drive to the Police with a copy of the logs proving you'd been asked to wipe out the evidence. This way not only do you have deniability and timestamps proving that the pr0n was on a given machine X at time Y in location Z but management committed a crime by asking you to destroy evidence.

    Replacing the infested drive with an identical down to serial number replacement and putting the original in a safe place with (ideally) hard drive ATA locking as this is essentially unbreakable with current technology, is optional.

    Refusing to hand over the key unless you are assured witness protection is also wise especially if it involves a Government official or other person in a position of power.

  25. 2Fat2Bald

    If it's genuinely call-the-police grade filth, then that's what you should do.

    If you don't, then you're endorsing the behaviour and reinforcing it, potentially making it more likely this person will actually carry out these acts, rather than merely view them. At best you're normalising it, at worst you're encouraging it. You're also enabling it, of course, by not preventing them from accessing it again. Depending on the nature of the images people (or animals) that did not want to participate in these acts may well be exploited again as you're assisting in sustaining the market for them.

    If that does not convince you - remember this. By destroying the evidence of the offence, you partake of it both morally and legally. If the guy gets caught and it ever comes out that you destroyed the evidence you could be charged with the offence under "joint enterprise", or just aiding-and-abetting. Imagine explaining that to your spouse. Your parents. Kids. Future Employers. Imagine going to the police station to sign "the register" (no.... not this one.... the other one..) You could, genuinely, go to prison for it, as a sex offender in a UK prison - you think that's gonna be a laugh?

    It's exactly the same as disposing of a gun for a murderer, or driving the getaway car for a bank robber.

    1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Yup

      Well, that was my attitude too. If it's a serious crime to just posses the damn files, call the cops.

      I'm curious why I got a couple of down votes for my CP anecdote. Perhaps I should have made clear that the stuff was nasty shit, nothing that could be mistaken for innocent images etc. Not kids in the bath stuff, things that made me want to take a cricket bat to the fucker.

      That or there are some kiddie fuckers on here who feel that IT workers should afford you a higher level of privacy than say lawyers, shrinks or doctors. If you provide evidence of a crime to them, your client privilege goes out the window.

      I guess I should have included the other stories where I found stuff that was clearly intended as "funny" but bestiality is still illegal. That chap just got a written warning since it was: a) a single image, b) he saw the error of his ways and c) he went and personally apologized to the various offended parties.

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