Do Not Annoy IT Part 2
This is the Part II of Do Not Annoy IT. You can read Part I here.
Then there are the unethical things that can happen when you push the I.T. people too far.
Have you ever accidentally sent an offensive email to the entire company? Would you like to? An unscrupulous tech can enter the email server (the software that sends and receives emails) and send out an email to everyone with your credentials. If you are lucky this won't result in the email server being shut down by a reply all cascade (where too many hit "reply all" to comment that you shouldn't send emails to everyone.) If you swear that you did not sent the email, the I.T. can always suggest that you have allowed a virus on your computer, probably after visiting porn sites, and the virus sent the email.
As long as your email was just to the company, you will probably be ok. At most, you will only get fired and blackballed from the industry. You can thank your lucky stars the email went nowhere near the White House. On the other hand, federal prison has a roof and three meals a day; that might be better than living under a bridge.
You have to assume that if the tech can get into the email server, he or she can get into your desktop computer, regardless of whether you are logged in. A malicious person with knowledge of computers could potentially set up scripts to download all sorts of bad stuff. Remember how heavy bandwidth use sets off alarms? Yep, you could find yourself setting off alarms. If you are really lucky, the scripts aren't downloading something illegal such as child porn.
On the subject of illegal porn, you have to watch out for the kinds of images that have your face. Graphics manipulation software is very powerful these days. It is relatively easy for your face to appear in an image that has nothing to do with you. A really skilled computer artist can create images that require dedicated experts to prove are fake. Most law enforcement agencies don't have dedicated computer graphics experts, so they may have to rely on their own best judgment. In no time at all, your naughty photos can be spread all over the world, traded by pedophiles who wish they were doing what you're doing.
By the way, most countries are part of efforts to crack down on the sexual exploitation of children and will aggressively hunt adults involved in child pornography. It may not just be feds looking for you. Have you ever heard of Interpol?
You may also want to note that digital images are made up of ones and zeros in a specific order to convey information. Likewise, digital recordings of your voice are files of ones and zeros in a specific order. If software can easily blend images together, what do you think it can do to audio files? Yes, it is true; you could find that you left your boss a drunken voice mail explaining how much you want to enjoy his family's dog. Imagine how sad your significant other will be when they get your message where you dump them in favor of the exotic dancer you met when you were trying to score some crack. (Please also enjoy the double entendre.)
From a company point of view, there are far worse things. Data is dollars and it must be protected by skilled and respected I.T. professionals at all times. Too bad all your really good I.T. guys left because you treated them like crap. Now your data is protected by Gary the Gamer who would rather be running through a first-person shooter killing all the noobs.
Imagine the day when you go down to complain to Gary that sixty-year-old Sylvia can't get her computer to work and it is somehow Gary's fault and he had better shape up or else. (Yes, managers often blame I.T. for user training issues.) Gary decides that you've cost him a head shot too many times. Gary reformats your server hard drives to mil-spec. That means no one will ever recover your data. It is gone permanently. Gary couldn't restore it even if he tried. Then Gary leaves a note saying that the only way to let Sylvia do what you ordered in your spoken, not written, instructions was to give her full access to the server, which she promptly erased.
Good luck finding where Gary is living these days. Also, have fun trying to prosecute in light of the note he left, because his story provides reasonable doubt and you can't prove that Sylvia isn't the culprit. If your luck holds, Gary won't be a photogenic kid who can play the press when describing you as an idiot ogre. The best luck of all comes when you realize that you are the owner of a sole proprietorship and don't have to report this to a boss or shareholders.
Of course, these are large examples of the bad things that can happen. It doesn't cover the little stuff like temporarily disabling your account or changing the auto-correct on your spell checker to spell your boss' name wrong. The I.T. people often get to assign priority to help requests. Whom do you think gets greater priority, the nice guy or the jerk?
Do you think you can use knowledge as an excuse?
You may be thinking that, since the I.T. guys are capable of doing all of this you can claim that they are responsible anytime something goes wrong. In some environments, you may get away with this. You don't want to risk it though.
First, the I.T. guys really do have logs of all sorts of things. A real computer expert, the sort that attorneys hire, can see if someone altered the logs. This means the I.T. guy can prove that you really were the culprit and they are innocent. Not only will you be liable for any lost wages, but you will be paying court costs, attorney's fees and the fee for that same expert that proved you wrong.
Why would the I.T. guy do that? Simple, because the I.T. people make their living based on trust; if you claim one can't be trusted, you threaten their livelihood for all time. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain by mounting your head on a legal pole. The more trusted the position, the more the tech has to lose. It has happened often enough that the techs have gotten savvy about it and will rip you apart personally and professionally.
Secondly, you may get away with it a time or two, but eventually someone will catch on. Good I.T. people are valuable to a company. If that company is losing too many of them and the losses all seem to revolve around you, you can bet there will be some questions. When they do finally let you go, it will not be pretty. The standard procedure for letting someone go involves having I.T. shut off all login accounts and confiscating the computer. Before wiping the computer for return to service, they have to go over it to make sure there is nothing important on it. Those techs are going to scour for every little piece of dirt they can get on you and report it where it will do the most harm to you.
Finally, you may actually push one of those I.T. guys far enough that setting you up sounds like a good idea. Imagine when your boss finds the email that appears to be intended for your company's competition that details how you are trying to cause discord in the employees by having I.T. staff fired. Go ask your attorney friend whether corporate espionage and sabotage is a crime.