An individual cannot really hope to match the IT resources that a company has at its disposal. The only domain where an individual is likely to get the better of a company is in individual hardware configuration. The general office workstation is usually a middle section performance machine, designed to handle a minimum of operating tasks and can’t really compare to a home computer tweaked for performance with a custom configuration. Even so, he will lose a fight with one of the specialized company computers, those meant to handle video and image editing, like the ones in the design department or in marketing.
Because of this, a company’s IT assets can represent a real gold mine for some employees. Sooner or later, they might realize that his employer’s servers and internet bandwidth are exactly what they always needed for their personal use but could never afford. His community forum, his upload mirrors or even a torrent site could really thrive in this lush and luxurious new environment.
As such, you could easily find out that your company’s IT assets have been used to host private services.
At first sight, this problem would not seem to expand beyond that of minor nuisances, small inconveniences. After all, if the company’s resources are that vast and powerful, one little extra site hosted or a simple forum would not overburden the servers or affect internet traffic to such a point that it would prove to be inconvenient. The real problem however resides somewhere else. It resides in vicarious liability.
A company is legally liable for the actions of his employees, even if they are unaware of these actions.
As such, any illegal material hosted by a company’s servers, even if they are hosted without their approval, consent or even knowledge is still the company’s legal responsibility. When the host for a private, underground community that deals with illegal material is found to be a legitimate place of business, investigators will usually approach the company’s management with discretion. They are aware that the company might not know that its resources are used for illegal purposes, and usually seek their cooperation. But this is usually just professional courtesy, since they are legally allowed to take direct action against the company.
Finding these unauthorized hosted materials and protecting oneself from such incidents can be quite difficult for a company if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. An IT manager can skim through the server database to look for suspicious content, but this action would need to be done regularly and it would take a lot of time without even guaranteeing an answer.
There are some automated tools that could help him in his search, however. If someone is using the company servers to host his own content, chances are that he is also using the company hardware to operate the web hosting tools he needs maintain his sites. With the help of a software inventory manager, an application that detects and indexes all of the applications installed on a workstation, an IT specialist could easily identify these clandestine software applications and follow up with a more thorough investigation with the respective employee.
Such internal investigation could easily spare the company of the public scandal and accusation of hosting and distributing illegal material, the legal ramifications of these accusations as well as the financial costs represented by possible lawsuits and fines.