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So here recently, i've been using google to look up information for basically random programming things (i was just hired on a month or so ago). So here recently I was actually looking up some information about RAW_SOCKETS (but thats beside the point)

Anyways some of the tutorials sites/explaining how to use them and explaining the protocol sites are actually blocked. (and our manager sent out an email saying that if u run into a site just to email her just in case). Now obviously...w/e sys admins probably see these 'blocked' sites in their reports.

But should I be worried? I mean....I literally am not trying to be devious Im just trying to learn stuff. I guess programming websites are sometimes labeled as "hacking". sometimes blogs get labeled like that, but alot of the time blogs have USEFUL information. This apparently happens alot of my other co-workers and they don't even bother emailing our manager.....but should I be worried? Or has this happened to you guys before?

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Many companies employ third parties to maintain lists of blocked sites. In these cases, the sysadmins don't see these sites as blocked unless it's brought to their attention directly (they don't peruse the lists for fun). If you think a site should be available, send an email to your helpdesk to request the block be removed. –  Joel Etherton Mar 10 '11 at 18:08
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I would be very worried about any company that actively monitored access to blocked sites. They might as well install cameras in every cubicle too. That said, I don't think this is the case and you shouldn't have anything to worry about. –  Jeff Mar 10 '11 at 19:12
    
You can't fight these things, usually. But now that most people carry smartphones and/or tablets, there are often alternatives :) –  Uri Mar 10 '11 at 20:03
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In the corporate office they have TV's that will display you current screen at random. –  Evan Mar 10 '11 at 20:12
    
@evan: Make sure you have a screenshot of customer records and take a picture of that and take it to the Privacy Officer (or alternate role type) –  Christopher Mahan Mar 11 '11 at 0:28
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6 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

This happens to me all the time, drives me nuts! Especially when researching corner case issues.

I've never had a problem arise from it other than things taking longer to figure out.

Clearly you have justified reasons for following whatever links you did. If it was ever brought up I would just point out that those sites should really not have ever been blocked to begin with.

Luckily tomorrow is my last day of dealing with this, as I have moved on to a company that doesn't restrict the developer's Internet access.

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Congrats on the new job! :-) –  DKnight Mar 10 '11 at 17:23
    
Ya it's pretty annoying, ill check the site on my android phone and it will be a programming tutorial on sockets.....im like WTF is this blocked? –  Mercfh Mar 10 '11 at 17:25
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Maybe the filter picked up "Expert Sex Change".com :) –  Evan Mar 10 '11 at 17:32
    
@DKnight, thanks! @Mercfh, Yeah, being reduced to surfing on my phone to do my job is pretty disheartening. –  Ben Mar 10 '11 at 17:38
    
@Evan - yah, they added the - a while back because apparently no one working there had a dirty enough mind to see it. –  Joel Etherton Mar 10 '11 at 18:09
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As a new employee, do what your manager suggested. Don't worry too much but go ahead and document everything for now since it seems to be a possible sore point. CYA

Ask some questions about the policy and why it's there and then determine if you need to continue the CYA activity. If you determine that your A needs conitnual Cing from something like this then you might want to keep your resume up to date because that kind of policy shows up at companies that don't trust their employees and that's not a good work environment.

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+1 For "keep your nose clean as a new employee" and for understanding what the policy is about. –  Beekguk Mar 10 '11 at 18:28
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Chances are if their system is so sensitive that its blocking so many sites, the admins won't be terribly worried about it. I'm sure its logging the website that was blocked and if the admins are doing what they should be doing they'll look at the website first to see what's there before taking action. If you're within the guidelines of your workplace about your internet use you should be just fine. Make sure you can explain what it was you were doing and why so that your bases are covered in case someone asks. But, you should be just fine.

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ya I mean i'd def never go to anything "devious"....i guess it's so sensitive it see's "code" and it thinks OMG hacking. –  Mercfh Mar 10 '11 at 17:25
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There are two reasons that these sites may be blocked:

  1. The web filters are too sensitive
  2. The site may contain something that SHOULD legitimately be blocked by the filter. Such things may be subtle items (text/images/downloads) hidden in the comments, or may be somewhere else on the domain. Additionally, the site may have been compromised at some point and found it's domain in a public database.

Odds are it's the first, but it all depends on why the websites are being blocked.

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If the sites are legitimate you shouldn't have anything to worry about. If the filter is that restrictive, you are not alone. In my company, the attempts to access a blocked site are logged, but not reviewed unless HR or an employee's manager requests to see the logs for that specific employee. In other words, no one monitors the logs unless there is reason to suspect the employee is doing something wrong already.

It would be too costly to actively monitor those logs, especially in a company large enough to be using such a filter.

For one company, I was behind a filter that blocked many small sites because they had not been reviewed/categorized yet. An email request to the admins promoted a review and the site I was looking for was available in a couple of days.

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Web filters, like spam filters, are imperfect. HR policies, like most bureaucratic policies, are not always sensible.

Alternate ways to access the network, such as your 3G smartphone or tablet, overcome most of these issues. They're not as convenient, but they're often safer, faster, and don't involve trying to move mountains.

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Ya I have a smartphone i've used it for that. –  Mercfh Mar 10 '11 at 21:33
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