The subject of an email is a daily cycle of mini-marketing: Blaring capitals from Chinese chemical manufacturers, news updates, thousands of groundbreaking press releases, Re: Re: Re: Fw: Re: Urgent!, the list goes on.
Some headlines still have the capacity to surprise; the most recent from a technology vendor marketing an Employee Monitor program. The headline didn’t make that immediately obvious:
Press release: Former KGB Spy to Monitor Your Employees
All I could imagine was some broad-shouldered mercenary, sitting in the corner of the office, with a Kalashnikov draped over his knee. On opening the email, I discovered the secret service illusion stemmed from a program called REFOG Employee Monitor 6.1.5 – previously known as KGB Spy.
I felt like asking why the change of handle? Were other vendors creeping around the REFOG offices at night? Did they have a rat? Was the program wanted in Belize for tax evasion?
According to the press release, the new REFOG Employee Monitor 6.1.5 “computer activity monitoring software… provides an easy-to-use solution to protect your business interests and boost productivity with respect to employee privacy… Designed to combat computer misuse, REFOG Employee Monitor is comprehensive software enabling you to keep track of your employees’ computer activities and get rid of those unrelated to work.”
This would be devastating to a journalist. One of the major sources of research for a hack are unrelated to work. Drinking, eating, staring out of windows, chewing pencils, drifting around the internet, all may seem unrelated to work, but all are the profoundest catalysts.
But then Ivan prodded me in the back with his muzzle and the penny dropped. This is a great program, and there is one company that needs it more than ever: Goldman Sachs. The press release continued:
“Once installed, the program allows monitoring employees remotely in real time, as well as logging their activity for future reference. Employee Monitor takes screenshots of desktop and registers all the keys pressed by a user, saving chat logs, usernames, passwords, email messages, web addresses and other data that can be useful for identifying unscrupulous workers. If necessary, the software can work in stealth mode so that it’s not visible in the program folder, control panel or system tray.”
Those emails from Fabulous Fab to his girlfriend may have been noticed earlier. Although the KGB Spy may not have stopped the ABS CDO disaster, at least it wouldn’t be so embarrassing for poor Fab.
Now I need to go and check my inbox.