sysadmin lifeFor the past four years, every March, GFI conducts an IT stress survey to learn more about what stresses out system administrators while mapping out what this kind of stress has on their lives. Now in its fourth year, the survey has revealed some interesting data and uncovered alarming patterns. For example, in 2014 an increase of 12% in stress levels was recorded over 2013 levels when 77% of US IT staff said they considered their job to be stressful.

This year’s findings are currently in the works and while the number crunchers are doing their job, we had a little sneak peek to some of the replies received. The answers to one particular question are hilarious yet tragic too if you’re an IT admin:what is the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen an end user do?

Turns out sysadmins see a lot of crazy stuff happening and what better way to share some of these findings than April Fool’s day? But this is far from an April Fool’s day post. You will struggle to believe some of these are true but the below really did happen to a sysadmin out there and whoever you are, we salute you.

A trend appeared in many of the replies. In both the UK and the US, sysadmins revealed that there seems to be a general inability of people to follow instructions, a complete ineptitude to distinguish between on/off status of machines and a whole lot of people getting caught watching porn (no surprise there… three judges got the sack last month in the UK). I guess some things are truly universal.

Here are the top three replies we received from both sides of the pond to the question; what is the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen an end user do?.

Top three replies from the US:

  1. [A user was caught] trying to open a PC because they were told the information is in the computer,
  2. Seriously complain that the stream of a World Cup game was too slow,
  3. Put a space heater right next to the computer.

Top three replies from the UK:

  1. Ask how to send an email – considering they had just sent one to me to ask me the question,
  2. I was once asked by someone on a flight why he could not connect to his home router and had to inform him the router only worked within a 150 meter radius, not 1500 mile,
  3. Someone turned the monitor upside down because his display was the wrong way up.

One honorable mention has to go to the sysadmin who replied, “Yell at me for updating their computer when I already warned them it would be happening that morning. They told me this is why no one liked me.” Looks like insider threats don’t only impact the network but also a sysadmin’s sanity and unfortunately there is no software solution which can help there.

These kind of replies serve to highlight the importance of information security awareness, training and education. It also shows the significance of laying out official company policies when it comes to corporate hardware and software use, social media access and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).  Whilst it may be optimistic to believe users can protect themselves against certain threats, you won’t be asking the world for a user to try the on/off button before calling helpdesk.

Be sure to check back later on this month when we’ll release the findings of the stress survey and more unbelievable things that end users do at work.