The Ottawa Sun
Thursday, January 9, 1997

Downloading porn at work unstoppable

by Dave Rider

Hi-tech Internet filters and electronic eavesdropping can deter but not stop employees from downloading pornography at work, says a Mitel Corp. security chief.

Mitel uses so-called firewall programs which prevent employee access to specified Internet sites and a Lotus software system that allows managers to follow workers' electronic footprints through cyberspace.

But it's impossible to prohibit access to new porn sites that pop up every day and impractical to electronically eavesdrop on every employee, said Darrell Booth, resources protection manager at the hi-tech giant's Kanata complex.

"If someone still wanted to get at (illegal pornography), they could", Booth said, adding the best defence is likely the low-tech tactic of keeping an eye out for employees with abnormally high Internet use.

A Mitel software tester was fired by the company and charged in late November with possession of kiddie porn after stories about adult-child sex were downloaded at the company. The arrest came after a former co-worker blew the whistle on the activities.

In an unrelated case, a National Defence scientist at a high-security lab was charged with possessing and distributing a huge quantity of kiddie porn after police traced its flow over the Internet.

So if security-conscious National Defence and technology leader Mitel Corp. can't catch employees accessing illegal material, who can?

Not Carleton University or the University of Ottawa, which rely on codes of conduct and complaint mechanisms to police content downloaded on their thousands of Internet accounts.

"It's a very difficult thing to block access on the Internet if people have the knowledge and the patience to get around it", said David Holmes, Carleton's assistant vice-president for information resources.

Copyright © 1997 by the Ottawa Sun. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.