The Naked Blunder

In the past, we have published many different articles on a multitude of aspects of computer security and on the risk to CERN and to you when you use your computer at CERN or at home. Some were relevant to all of us, others only to a minority. This time, we would like to raise a rather delicate and fortunately rare issue: the consultation of pornographic websites and why it is forbidden at CERN.


With 10,000 people at CERN of different cultural and professional backgrounds, some working outside traditional working hours and some staying in one of the three CERN hostels, it is a natural fact that behaviours, interests, perceptions and attitudes vary significantly. CERN highly values the diversity of its personnel and users and the interaction between them. In this respect, the CERN campus is comparable to a small city and, as in every small city, some citizens are attracted to pornography.

It is not easy to find a common definition of pornography. It depends on our cultural roots, our values and the environment we live in. Having said that, if you are in doubt as to whether certain webpages or materials contain pornography, it’s better to assume that they do and to act accordingly.

The browsing of pornographic websites and the downloading or capture and storage of pornographic videos and photos violates CERN’s values and its Code of Conduct and is prohibited under the CERN Computing Rules. The consultation of “adult” pages is never a professional activity; colleagues who encounter this might be irritated, offended or shocked and feel harassed (see Operational Circular No. 9 on harassment). Furthermore, visiting such sites and downloading pornographic material endangers your computer, as the corresponding webpages and files may contain viruses or other malware. It could even violate the copyright of the content owner. Finally, it puts the Organization at risk, as such activities may be monitored by the site owner or third parties (including, potentially, national authorities). It is definitely not good for CERN’s reputation if such parties publish the names of visitors to their pages and “CERN” is listed. 

For the same reasons, incitement to violence, discrimination or racism, as well as inappropriate or offensive activities, are not tolerated at all. Spare yourself the embarrassment of getting a notification from us asking you to justify (and cease) any prohibited activity or worse, the possibility of disciplinary action. Instead, refrain from the consultation of porn and other illegal content while connected to the CERN networks, even if you are using your own device!

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by Computer Security Team