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How Much Do You Trust?

Posted by Matthew Greensmith at 8:02 AM on June 23, 2008

In my J.O.B. I work for the IT department of a college. Because of my position and my responsibilities, I naturally have access to a whole lot of things I don’t really want to have access to. I have been in the same job for eight years, enjoy what I do, and in turn, have taken my responsibility for keeping my nose out of where it doesn’t belong on the servers, even though I have access to just about anything I’d want to see. In addition to having server access, I also have a master key, a physical key that will get me into any interior office, closet or classroom on campus. This means I can walk into the dean’s office, the president’s office, the head of campus police’s office, or the archival room of the library. I can go anywhere in the business office, cashier’s office, faculty offices, etc. I am one of only four or five in my department who has one of these keys.

Over my eight years of employment, I’ve done no more than let myself into a classroom or meeting room, or into our storage areas. While I could let myself into my boss’s office, I haven’t, and wouldn’t, do that, unless he were locked on the other side and begging for help. In my opinion, I have been given a great privilege in having the key, and the server access, and I do not want to ever be accused of overstepping my boundaries.

I know this is not so with others that I work with, and certainly not true for other IT staff around the world. A recent study of IT workers by UK software firm Cyber-Ark reveals that one-third admitted to secretly snooping, while 47% said they had accessed information that was not relevant to their role. I myself have been the target of snooping by members of my own department, with information then passed on to others that should have never left my home directory. And I know of at least two of our staff members that were reading memos and letters in our President’s home directory without permission. Eventually, our department manager had to issue a written policy against snooping, including the “taking over” of machines for repair or updating without letting the user know.

It would seem that a policy would not need to be in place for such things. As an IT worker, I see my responsibility to my clients, who include our campus deans and presidents, as paramount. If I cannot act ethically and responsibly for them, then I am not serving my clients and don’t deserve to have my job in the first place. Snooping is for juveniles with MySpace and FaceBook accounts. I’m a grown woman and hopefully have the ethics to know better than to snoop around where I do not belong.

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