View Full Version : A computer question???

07-04-2008, 10:25 AM
Hey guys! This is an odd one maybe but it concerns an old friend of ours.
She moved into an old age care facility. she's still very sharp but it makes me wonder.
They have a library there and she uses the computers there to correspond with old friends etc.
There's 10 computers there all setup around a long desk.
She claims there's a "creepy" guy who is the librarian. The reason she says this is that he has let slip a couple of things that he shouldn't have known.
Things that where said between her and some email friends.
Now she's all freaked out that this "creepy" guy can look at what she's got up on her computer.
He sits at the main desk with a computer and she's worried that all the stuff on everyones computers can be viewed by this guy.
I have no idea so I told her i'd ask you guys if it was possible for this to happen,
Or is this just an old lady who is paranoid in her new digs?
She's lived alone for some time now and is maybe losing it a bit.. I don't know.
So, do you think it's possible that this guy can "evesdrop" on the old folks emails etc? I'm thinking some kind of parental type control or something?
Doesn't sound right to me but i guess they may have to do something like that with some of the old folks losing it or whatever.
What do you think?

07-04-2008, 10:28 AM
Yeah it's "possible" Russ, but I can't imagine any responsible business allowing it to happen that easily.
Is it not another possibility that the said "creep" could have just been looking over her shoulder?

07-04-2008, 10:36 AM
Lin.. that's what freaks her out. The guy always takes her to the same computer in the back corner. Nobody can stand behind her she says so it concerns her that he knew something she'd written.
Who knows with all the weirdo crap out there today.
LOL! Or maybe she forgot to sign out or who knows???

07-04-2008, 10:39 AM
So, do you think it's possible that this guy can "evesdrop" on the old folks emails etc? I'm thinking some kind of parental type control or something?

Unfortunately, yes.

I'm guessing she's doing web-based email, and not using Outlook? If she leaves herself logged-in to the webmail site, the creepy guy can re-open her session and read her email.

There should be a "log off and clear session" menu option on the webmail client. Make sure she logs off when she's finished with her email.

The other issue is that her web pages with the email on it are cached in the Internet Explorer cache. On the top menu bar on Internet Explorer, click:

Tools->Delete Browsing History

That will clear her Explorer session.

Sounds like the like the better solution would be to fire the creepy guy, or beat some sense into him.

07-04-2008, 10:40 AM
yeah, know whatcha mean Russ.
Freaks me out and there's only 2 people in this house that use this computer!

Sick of the AVG/Spybot/cleanup/etc, etc.... routine.

07-04-2008, 10:49 AM
get her a usb drive and load portable firefox on there

it doesnt leave any info on the host machine

Privacy: Does Firefox Portable leave behind any personal data?

A. No. Firefox Portable has its disk cache disabled. It uses RAM for cache. All your cookies and other data is self-contained on your portable device. At no time is any personal data stored on the local machine, so even if someone tried to find it with an undelete utility, there would be nothing for them to find.

07-04-2008, 10:51 AM
get her a usb drive and load portable firefox on there

It's an old lady at a retirement home -- I don't think you're going to get her to carry personal FireFox around on a USB keychain :D

07-04-2008, 10:58 AM
Yeah I know but all you have to do is plug it in. I didnt think that was to complicated. I dont know maybe the "beat some sense into him" is the only option

07-04-2008, 11:00 AM
I dont know maybe the "beat some sense into him" is the only option

Reminds me of the creepy retirement home nurse played by Ben Stiller in "Happy Gilmore." "Come on Grandma, knit faster!"

Sometimes the low tech solutions are more effective ;)

07-04-2008, 11:01 AM
Can't see why not Rob.
If she got enough marbles left to play gate's game, I'm sure she could plug in a flash drive and decline to play, especially if configured by someone cognisant with that particular sorta problem

Coupla you guys made a good point. I'm just not used to using public computers or webmail.

07-04-2008, 11:03 AM
And just in case, there's always sandboxie :D

07-04-2008, 11:08 AM
lmao, hey Russ does he have a handlebar mustache?

07-04-2008, 11:23 AM
Can't see why not Rob.
If she got enough marbles left to play gate's game, I'm sure she could plug in a flash drive and decline to play

My Grandmother, bless her heart, passed away several years ago at the ripe old age of 97. I couldn't teach her to use the TV remote, let alone a USB thumbdrive :)

Then again, if Russ' Lady is doing email, she's lightyears ahead of my Grandma :D

07-04-2008, 11:30 AM
Hehehe, she could probably still drive a mule team though :D

07-04-2008, 11:46 AM
given todays techknolwedgey if you dont turn off remote access in windows then any one can log on your system even if its off you can be hacked plus fire walls are a joke. so long as there is and open port in a fire wall and said system has a net connection hooked in and active you can surf but so can a hacker get it and there not stuiped like some peope think...

if you set up hotmail or yahoo etc to save your pasword and user name on a computer then anyone can log back in and access your account as well..

07-04-2008, 11:50 AM
There is some software that can be loaded onto a system so you can remotely control that and other PC's. We used this at the school I retired from and it was a god send to cure the ills of others without leaving the office. It can also be used to evesdrop on the little darling doing what that shouldnt that said it could also be used for neffarious things - so it is possible, I will look up what we used.


Just logged onto the school and had a looksee and the software we used was Ultravnc Viewer http://www.uvnc.com/


07-04-2008, 11:54 AM
As I said, there's sandboxie

07-04-2008, 11:55 AM
(ptj's post...) Which i think is the easiest answer for this... I'm sure all the computers are networked together, and Nurse Creepy most likely has some administrator priveledges. Given that, it's a piece of cake for him to remote access her machine - so whatever is on her screen shows up on his.

The techies at work use this all the time to install stuff and troubleshoot our computers without leaving their strange-smelling lair.

There's a little icon in the system tray, in my case it's a little monitor screen with a lightning bolt or something through it. When they're connected to my machine the icon's screen turns blue, when no one's connected it's white. Other than thet you can't tell unless they start moving your mouse around - which nurse creepy obviously wouldn't do.

07-04-2008, 11:58 AM
The only assured privacy is a stand-alone machine, preferably Linux running PGP :mad:

07-04-2008, 11:59 AM
Thanks guys... maybe the ol' girl is right. She's just learning computer basics and doesn't understand much about all this. I never asked her what email she uses. Maybe she's using Outlook and anyone can access that. But I think she said something about Facebook also.... I think she uses that to talk to old friends also.
It just pees me off that someone could invade ANYONES privacy like that. Geez... it could be me in that place someday :D
Mo... I don't know what the guy looks like...lol!
So what do i tell her? To only use hotmail or Yahoo and just be sure not to have ot auto login?
Clear her history and files?
Or is she just hooped if this is "company policy" to control internet usage?

07-04-2008, 12:05 PM
Russ, is there someone in the vicinity that can set her up a flash drive with sandboxie and firefox?

As long as she can plug it into a USB, it should give her some peace of mind, and the creep some headaches.
She can also save her mail/pics/wotever to the drive and have use and control of them.

07-04-2008, 12:10 PM
Hmm.. I think I'm going to suggest to her that she just buy her own computer and get it hooked up in her room. It's not like she can't afford it... hubby passed and left her a lotta loot.
Thanks guys!

07-04-2008, 12:20 PM
Still not ideal Russ, unless she can protect her privacy on the network.

I'd have suggested that earlier, but figured she was on the tight side $ wise.

07-04-2008, 02:07 PM

there are soooo many ways to see what someone is doing on a computer if you have access to it.


At an old job my boss and I took controls of the RMA guys PC while he was working. he would type a bit, we would backspace a few characters. He typed a bit more we would type some random garbage. By the time we were done he was pulling his hair and yelling. You get canned for that now but at the time it was all good clean fun, for us anyway :-}

- Scott

07-04-2008, 02:43 PM
"You get canned for that now but at the time it was all good clean fun, for us anyway :-}"

Yup, that was the original hacker ethos.
Do no harm, leave no trail. (just a hint :) )

The whole thing's gone down the same moral greasetrap.
"Me first, last, always and only."

The BBC made a series, "grumpy old men".
I tuned in, agreed with most, but found out most of em were younger than me :D

07-04-2008, 02:51 PM
It's not only possible but likely that he is snooping. It can be prevented but not likely by using the "house" machines. A properly configured laptop will be secure even if running XP as long as creepy doesn't get his hands on it.

He can still intercept packets on the network regardless of what operating system is used. That is easy to do if you know how. Chances are that any machine connected to the net in the home will be routed through a proxy server. In that case no security is possible except for using strong encryption. That I am sure is not a viable solution for a number of reasons.

07-04-2008, 02:56 PM
Just for giggles, send some random plain ASCII in an email. "greek" it.

See what the sh1thead does when he thinks she's using encryption.

07-04-2008, 02:57 PM

FYI, the RMA guy (Bob) and I were good friend for years after that,I was best man at his wedding and have bounced his daughter on my knee so to speak. Got a picture of his family in the mail at Christmas...

And as I remember the original "hackers" started a good bit of the computer industry.

Hacker used to mean "get er done" like going into the computer Dept. in the middle of the night to wire a new instruction into a computer.


- Scott

07-04-2008, 03:01 PM
Know what you're saying Scott.
I share the ethos, if not the knowledge.
But I like to think I have a grasp of the principles and apply them to hardware ;)

Open source :D