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I've been asked to secretly share a staff member's My Documents folder on her XP Pro workstation with another staff member.

I'm wondering if this is technically possible (I'm the system/network administrator so I can pretty much go anywhere, do anything). I need to share the folder with one other staff member. Again, secretly.

My thought on whether it's the Right Thing To Do or not is that there really is no guarantee of confidentiality on a work machine. Right?

As a side note I think the situation leading to this is more of a people problem better solved with a people solution rather than a technical solution.

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Truer words have never been spoken. This is an HR issue and it's unfair and unethical for the requestor to put you in this position. We shouldn't be called on to police users email, internet activity, phone calls, etc. We implement the technology that facilitates management's ability to do those things. It's their job not ours. I once had a manager ask me to change the password for an employee he was about to fire and he then asked me to lie to her about why she couldn't log in. I changed the password and informed him that I would direct her support call to him. –  joeqwerty Jan 28 '11 at 1:29
    
Do it if you have been directed to do so but I would suggest you get these instructions in writing, just in case there is ever a backlash. You don't have to like it and you most certainly don't have to wear it. –  John Gardeniers Jan 28 '11 at 2:37

4 Answers 4

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This is more of an ethical issue rather then technical issue. The question you need to ask yourself is, are you violating company's policy by "secretly" sharing someone's document with another staff member. It's often normal for someone in management position to ask for this type of request. But it's quite another when it's a colleague in the same level. Personally, I think you cross the boundary of your job responsibility and not to mention company's policy. I'm sure most companies are frown upon this type of practice.

Going back to the technical question you asked, you can share a folder on a network with restricted access. Other people can see the folder is there but they will not have access to it unless specified. Yes it's possible.

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Agree. If it's something management wouldn't like, don't go near it. If it is something they'd approve of, setup a storage server - even just a spare desktop running Linux and SAMBA and give just those two people access to it. At least use real access control. –  Jason Antman Jan 28 '11 at 2:31

Disregarding the morals (as this is a technical site!) the way to do this would be to create it with a share name and a $ at the end of the share name (which would hide it).

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+1 Morals are fluid and variable and if there are legal concerns, that's not our area either. –  John Gardeniers Jan 28 '11 at 2:33

Depending on the contract you have with employees, it can be a risky area to go spying on them. Generally speaking, if you suspect them of wrong doing then it could be legally permissable; and if it is exclusively on work related activity, then it is usually fine.

Hidden/administrative shares are easy enough to create, they have a $ on the end of their name. See this knowledgebase article on the subject.

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The expectation of privacy on work equipment is something that varies from country to country, and even locality to locality. In the US there is large precedent for any activity on work-supplied equipment being fully and completely auditable. That's not always the case elsewhere. In Europe, where worker protections tend to be more robust, I wouldn't be as confident as I would be in, say, Alabama.

As others have pointed out, such shares are easy to create. However, they're also easy to discover if someone knows how to look for them.

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