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I need to audit a user to see if they are using internet radio (Pandora, shoutcast, etc). Normally, I just ask them to use their computer, however I am not in the same facility as this person, so I need to know of a way that I can either monitor their workstation silently (without them knowing), or if that's not viable, log on as them, with out changing their password. I am the administrator of the domain, so I have admin privileges on that workstation.

Remote workstation is Windows XP Pro.

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Do you not have access logs for traffic on your network? – jscott Aug 17 '10 at 16:26
I could, but I'd rather do it in a simpler way. If there is no other way, then that's going to be my default option. – WedTM Aug 17 '10 at 16:30
As jscott mentioned, your firewall logs are going to be the simplest way to see this info. – GregD Aug 17 '10 at 16:36
up vote -1 down vote accepted

On Windows - no, and thank heaven. It would be a security nightmare.

Even as admin you have NO right to know the user's password and IMPERSONATE him. This would totally destroy network security - logs showing a user's identity would mean NOTHING for ANY proof anymore. Heck, evnen your accusiation of me using some bad software - you wwould end up in court as the person having supposedly planted the software.

  • Use firewall logs, or
  • get professional and start implementing some softwar management pack that will GLADLY report all installed and running software.


Use Remote Desktop - have the user (this is available in XP Pro I think) ask you for support, use desktop sharing. user can see what you do, and you check the computer.

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Can you suggest a software maangement pack? – WedTM Aug 17 '10 at 16:49
SCE (System Center Essentials) or SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager). It can create program inventories (inventories of programs installed / used). – TomTom Aug 17 '10 at 17:05
First off, this is just patently wrong-headed. If you're the administrator, you can already impersonate someone with impunity, either by logging a message of any kind, or, if that's not sneaky enough, installing a driver that can do even scarier (and even harder-to-trace) things. Nothing the OQ is asking for is impossible at a technical level. Whether it's advisable, or violates ethics standards, or is more difficult than other potential solutions--those are separate questions that deserve proper airing. Simply saying, "sorry, nope, it's impossible," is neither helpful, nor even correct. – BMDan Aug 17 '10 at 17:46
Well, if ou want to get criminal - yes. In most jurisdictions the installation of such hardware is illegal, even if approoved by the business owner. – TomTom Aug 18 '10 at 6:40

Have you tried VNC? I know the icon changes color and the mouse flashes a little sometimes when you're monitoring someone else's screen, but maybe they won't notice.

If you have ScriptLogic installed, they have a monitoring tool within their remote assistance client that you can choose to (or not) display a "so-and-so is monitoring your desktop."

VNC is the cheapest way to go, and if they figure out that you're monitoring randomly, maybe they'll start getting paranoid and stop doing whatever it is you don't want them to :)

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