Take the 2-minute tour ×
Server Fault is a question and answer site for professional system and network administrators. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Because of the place I work has some real issues (people) especially in IT and the owner, I wonder if we are being sniffed.

Is there any way to tell if on a Vista 64-bit machine:

1) In system logs some identification that would tell me that someone might log into my PC such as an Admin

2) Something in the logs that would give me a flag about maybe I'm being monitored some other way?

3) How can I be sure that my gmail, hotmail, and chat is not being sniffed. I know there are things like Simp, etc. I'm talking about specific hidden system signs either in registry or logs.

Obviously I'm not going to raise any suspicion by me asking our network admin. I don't trust anyone at this company.

is there a good way to basically monitor for this as an end user? Could someone log in and basically watch me work and if so, would there be any goodies left behind for me to find out if this has happened other than visual signs which would not be present...maybe some running processes?

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by Falcon Momot, Andrew, Wesley, Ward, Iain Sep 23 '13 at 6:32

  • This question does not appear to be about professional server, networking, or related infrastructure administration within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

5  
Why worry about it? It's work, and the company's computer. Do your work on it, don't use it for anything you're not supposed to, and everything is fine. You have a computer at home with Internet access for your personal business. –  Evan Anderson Sep 17 '09 at 3:15
1  
And lets face it you WILL use outside email like gmail, hotmail, etc. And no most people cannot go to work without checking and using that outside Outlook, etc. So I would want to know that interacting with that mail which is personal to me is safe regardless of the argument "don't check it at work then" because that's not realistic my friend. –  user16521 Sep 17 '09 at 4:30
5  
This is clearly an end user issue and not system administration and should therefore be taken elsewhere. –  John Gardeniers Sep 17 '09 at 7:52
2  
This question appears to be off-topic because it is asked by an end user having trouble at work. –  Falcon Momot Sep 23 '13 at 3:00
1  
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about circumvention of security or policy, or system misuse. –  Andrew Sep 23 '13 at 3:02

3 Answers 3

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Nothing you do on your local area network is private. Nothing. If someone is sniffing traffic at the router, you can't tell. If someone has attached a hub and is using a promiscuous sniffer, you can't tell. This is the reality of being on a corporate network.

That said, there are usually some exceptions.

If you are visiting a website that uses SSL or TLS encryption, then the content of your messages is probably safe. They will know WHERE the content is heading, but not what is in it. This can be compromised by something called 'man-in-the-middle' attack, but that requires intimate knowledge of the network. That said, if it's your own IT manager who's doing it, it's a possibility.

The fact of the matter is that all this monitoring happens outside the realm of your local machine, which means that it's undetectable.

Whether or not it is legal for your employer to do this to you though is another matter, and it varies GREATLY depending on where you live (UK, USA, Australia, etc)

share|improve this answer
    
Yea, something like gmail. It's over SSL. But I can't be sure it's completely safe...is it? –  user16521 Sep 17 '09 at 4:28
    
Nope. Nothing you ever do on the internet can be guaranteed as 100% safe. Gmail itself is actually completely un-encrypted. It's only the login and authentication procedure that is encrypted. Check the URL that your gmail page is sitting on... –  Mark Henderson Sep 17 '09 at 4:57
3  
If the computer you're using isn't yours, and you don't personally control the software on it, even SSL isn't "safe". Your IT people could easily install a rather vile device that will automatically do SSL main-in-the-middle attacks w/o your knowledge. I appreciate that you don't think it's "cool" and that you don't want advice, but the fact of the matter is that if you're not using your computer you can't be sure of anything re: privacy, so why not just treat it like you have none just to be safe? –  Evan Anderson Sep 17 '09 at 4:57
    
Because I could be acting totally "safe" and using something like Hotmail on a work PC should be allowed and I should know that my employer has enough sense to let someone view their external email without interfering with that. –  user16521 Sep 17 '09 at 5:01
1  
@coffeeaddict: at the end of the day, the desktop, network and internet connection all belong to your employer, which gives them the final say it what they can and cannot be used for. In a good company, there will be a well defined acceptable usage policy which makes clear what is and isn't permitted, but if the company says 'no webmail', they are fully within their rights to do so. As Evan says, if you don't trust your admins, treat your work network as completely untrusted, and don't do anything that you wouldn't want recorded by someone malicious. –  Murali Suriar Sep 17 '09 at 6:54

For preventing them sniffing elsewhere on the network you can run a web proxy on an external machine you do trust that lets you connect over SSL. That'll let you browse non SSL sites without anyone on the LAN being able to sniff it.

Beyond that, if they've tampered with their computer that you're using, I'm not sure you can ever detect that.

You also can't really detect if they've put pinhole cameras or microphones around the place, or are listening through laser mics or watching you through telescopes.

At some point you just have to trust your employer and, if you don't, find one you can trust. I've had employers who knew that I would occasionally have a rant on IRC or spend an hour reading blogs. As long as my work was done they didn't care. I've had other employers (briefly) where if you accessed anything that wasn't directly, provably, work related, it'd be a serious disciplinary matter. That's their call, not yours.

This also goes both ways, if you distrust them that much, you'll find they'll start to distrust you.

share|improve this answer
    
As others have already pointed out, on a corporate network (e.g. where a third party controls the DNS, PC root certificates and routers) then TSL/SSL content cannot be relied upon to be secure. –  mas Sep 17 '09 at 7:48

I don't know anything about windows, so can't answer that part of the question.

You can't detect network sniffing because it happens outside of your machine.

If the company owns the computer, they have the legal right to read every character you type (not that I agree with that, it's just a fact). They can replace the SSL certificates and read even what appears to be secure web connections if they like.

If I were in that situation and I could get away with it, I would do my work from an operating system running off of a CD which I brought with me.

share|improve this answer
9  
I'm tempted to go "-1" on the whole "work from an operating system running off a CD" bit of your comment. It's WORK. You're there to DO WORK. It's not your computer... Grrr... –  Evan Anderson Sep 17 '09 at 3:14
    
Evan, you're too invested in your users being perfect little workers. Guess what, that's not how human beings are. Deal with it (fellow programmer) –  user16521 Sep 17 '09 at 4:44
    
I don't care if corporations have the "right". I'm ok with them owning Email. That's why I only email "work" related emails and never flame people. however, I don't care that the company "owns" your PC. A person should have some kind of privacy in chat and external resource useage such as gmail. And if you're one of those sticklers limiting any access to outside email, that's gay. That's so old school and so lame. –  user16521 Sep 17 '09 at 4:45
    
Companies should be able to monitor certain things. But monitoring chat and external emails going over non SSL sites such as Hotmail is just wrong. –  user16521 Sep 17 '09 at 4:46
1  
@Devin Ceartas, even a livecd won't protect you against something like a hardware keylogger. –  Zoredache Sep 17 '09 at 7:42

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.