Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Clandestine chat software spreading through offices

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A computer program that lets office workers chat on MSN messenger while giving the appearance that one is working has recently become extremely popular.

The program, JustChat, allows messaging content to appear in the windows of various software programs that office workers use, such as Microsoft Word or Excel. Users who are actually chatting online appear hard at work as they type away in what looks like a Word document.

Office workers who see or hear their boss nearing their workstation can close JustChat at the touch of a button. The program also allows users to switch between different chat windows by clicking on the tabs that are discreetly placed at the top of each dialogue box.

“This thing is too wonderful,” an Internet user called “QQ” said.

Another user, with the online name “Ausir,” said: “How terrible for bosses.”

JustChat, developed by a Taiwanese programmer, has been spreading like wildfire as office workers who chat during work hours pass on the news to each other.

However, IT specialists warn that JustChat is only useful in fooling those who happen to walk by your computer, but not your company’s internal IT department.

“Most companies have a monitoring system that track employees’ actions online, such as which Web sites they are visiting, who they are talking to using instant messaging software, what files they are transferring using FTP [File Transfer Protocol] and what they are writing in their e-mails,” said Roger Huang (黃志成), an IT consultant at IBM Taiwan.

The system is designed not only to keep bored workers from misusing their office hours, but also to act as a gatekeeper in preventing confidential corporate data from being leaked into the wrong hands, he said.

Or, as Internet user “Small Role” put it, “MSN monitoring systems have full records of all your conversations. Better to just spend working hours working.”

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