The strictest IT departments in the UK defend their policies

Do you work for the IT department - or do you work against it?

Do you work for the IT department - or do you work against it?

When we asked you to tell us about policies at your place of work - policies on downloading software, performing upgrades or generally just using IT equipment - we expected a few interesting stories. What has emerged, however, is a clear divide between end users who feel put upon by IT departments, and IT departments who feel being firm is the best approach. What follows are some of the things you told us - and remember, please keep those tales coming in. Police state
One of our readers used to work on a technical support helpdesk for ISP LineOne. He told us: "When I first joined, we could download software, play huge multiplayer games while talking to customers... the works. By the time I left, only three programs were capable of being run." These were an in-house call logging application, admin software for customer accounts and Netscape Navigator 4 - though ironically LineOne only supported Microsoft IE4. He adds: "We could not get to any websites other than L1 websites. We could not run any other piece of software, including the ones we were supposed to be offering support for - FTP, news programs, Outlook Express, MIRC and any number of programs you'd assume were essential to people offering tech support for an ISP. "Add to this the fact that when there were no calls, we weren't even allowed to read a newspaper... we had to stare at our screens or look at LineOne web pages (which didn't work properly in Netscape)." He called it the "most police state-like department on the planet" and says he was eventually fired for sketching an agent with hands chained to their desk - the desk featuring a keyboard with only three buttons. Mind your language
An anonymous reader emailed us saying: "Our IT department is particularly strict, especially when it comes to spotting bad language in emails. I once had an email forwarded to me from them which said 'Mind the language!' I couldn't find the 'language' so I asked them what they were referring to. Apparently they were particularly offended by the word 'suckers'. Since when has that been a swear word?" However gripes such as these aren't as important, according to most people who responded to our question, as running a tight IT ship... "Nightmare users!!!"
Another reader told us: "I currently work for a large photo mask producer. In the clean rooms we operate on site we (the IT dept) have had to completely restrict all the users' access to everything. They cannot use the run command, DOS, re-start in DOS, properties of anything, access systems settings, access the file tab, network properties including mapped drives, no access to A: or C: drives, no email, no internet access - they can only run the applications we allow them to. "They can't install/remove anything - settings or software. IE 5.5 settings have been removed etc.. We have achieved this by a mixture of Novell Zenworks for desktops 2 and Microsoft's IEAK5.2. "We have had to do this as the operators we have working in our clean rooms have a tendency to abuse/hack any settings or access they can find." He goes on to explain: "The amount of time (and therefore money) we have spent in the past rectifying the issues they have caused by editing settings, installing damaging and illegal software, pornographic backgrounds or screen savers, deleting files locally and on the servers etc was truly shocking and so we have had to restrict everything for everyone." Stress testing
We've also heard tales of students and lecturers in an educational establishment finding "ways of stress testing Microsoft operating systems/applications to well beyond the limits" and often assuming "there are no limits". The answer - this IT administrator has a strict policy of taking away everything on PCs apart from the Start button and Notepad. Among the other comments we heard, were hard line statements such as: "If people want to misuse IT services then tell them to accept the sword to be wielded for non-compliance - it's their decision." And: "When employees wilfully disobey their employer's Acceptable Usage Policy they should have some holiday revoked or lose their bonus for that year." Ouch! What do you think? Let us know your thoughts on all this - including the IT regimes you work under or implement - by posting a Reader Comment below.