The Cable Guy | Image: Columbia Pictures
It's an often used (and often unrealistic) element of plot in movies: those with knowledge about computers and other electronics are able to do practically any underhanded thing possible to surveil, investigate and foil their chosen victims. One old example is The Cable Guy, in which Jim Carrey, as the title character, just by virtue of his knowlege of cable and phone systems is able to destroy practically everything good that protagonist Matthew Broderick has going for him in life.
It may be a frequently used plot convention, but that's only because it's mostly true, particularly in this age in which cameras, computers and other modes of surreptitious recording can be activated remotely.
Thus, when Gizmodo asked readers about some of their nightmare IT stories, the responses were all over the map. Examples follow:
"I had an office IT guy aid and assist a jerk in our civil department who was really creepily stalking me and when I took it to HR found out 3 other women in our firm had the same issue with the civil jerk, but none of them had been smart enough to know the IT guy did it. He was letting civil jerk look through my office emails, not that I’m stupid enough to ever send anything inappropriate through office email.
I figured it out because creepy guy referenced something I said in an email to my boss about taking the day off to look at new apartments, and I wasn’t sharing it because coworkers knew my then boyfriend and I didn’t want him to know I was moving out. When the civil guy emailed me and was like “I heard you were looking for a new apartment, maybe I can help” I got super creeped out and went to HR. We both knew the IT guy was the only one with the power to let people in to others emails. Unfortunately the IT dude was the brother of the firm founder... needless to say I found a new job asap." -Architect Queen Bi*ch
"In the early 90s when web-based porn primarily consisted of photos on listservs I worked for a state agency in a western state. The network was run by one guy and two assistants. The assistants were complete idiots. They would come around and try to fix things and usually the head guy would have to intervene. The network was unbelievably good though for those days. Later I found out the head guy ran a bunch of porn sites on the side and intentionally hired the idiots so they wouldn’t know what he was up to with his side business. That guy knew the value of having a system that didn’t go down. Best IT guy ever. And from the government’s perspective- worst IT guy ever." -TheBlightofGrey