*Most people spend between 8 to 12 hours per day at work and for most of those people a computer is an essential part of their job. But if you have personal files saved on your work or office computer, you could lose your files or even worse your job. Here are 7 Reasons why you should never save your personal files on your work computer.
1. There is no expectation of privacy:
Have you ever noticed a message like this one when you log onto your work computer?
"The Company retains the right, with or without cause or notice to me, to access or monitor all Computer Information, including but not limited to my e-mail and voice mail. I agree that I have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the Computer Information and expressly waive any right of privacy or similar right in the Computer Information. I agree that Computer Information is the sole and exclusive property of the Company. Any of my files, e-mail or other Computer Information stored on the Company’s computer and/or communications systems shall become the property of the Company. I agree that I shall not install or use encryption software on any of the Company’s computers without first obtaining written permission from my manager or supervisor. I agree that I shall not use passwords or encryption keys that are unknown to my manager or supervisor." *
Or like this:
"The Employee understands and agrees that the Employee has no expectation of privacy with respect to the Employer's telecommunications, networking, or information processing systems (including, without limitation, stored, created or accessed computer files, e-mail messages, and voice messages) and that the Employee's activity and any files or messages on or use of any such systems may be accessed, monitored, copied, disclosed, and saved by the Employer at any time without notice to the Employee."*
These are called no expectation of privacy statements and while the statement may be different where you work, a similar statement is typically displayed when you log into your computer for work, but how many people actually take the time to read and understand this statement? The statement is designed to let you know that you should not expect any privacy while working on your office computer. This means you should not expect that your files, emails, etc. to be kept private. If you created a personal file, saved a personal file, or downloaded personal files to your office computer, they may be accessed, monitored, copied, disclosed, or saved by your manager, HR personnel or others while you are employed or after your employment is terminated. And in some cases, these personal files can be used against you if those files violate other rules within your organization.
2. Sudden and Unexpected Job Transition
If you have personal files saved on your work computer and your office has immediate layoffs what personal files would remain on your office computer? If your company closed its doors on a Monday evening and you were unable to access your files again, what would you lose? If you were terminated and walked off the premises of your company without being given access to your computer again, what would you lose?
While, those may sound like the worst possible scenarios, they are not. Layoffs happen frequently and often without warning or much time to prepare and move your personal files from your office computer. Companies also close every day and while most companies provide notice for layoffs, sometimes companies close without warning. In 2016, ITT Technical Institute closed its doors without warning, leaving almost 8,000 employees without their jobs. If any of those employees saved files on their work computers or used their work emails for personal use, those files and emails were no longer accessible to them. What would personal files would you lose if you lost your job today?
3. Company-wide cyber attack
Cyber-attacks are on the rise and more companies and organizations are being hit by cyber-attacks. Some companies can avert the attacks, but sometimes those attacks cause lost files and data. If you have personal files saved on your work computer and there is a cyber-attack, your personal files could be compromised or destroyed. Most companies can salvage their network files with offsite backups, but not all companies back up local machines so if your personal files are stored locally and your computer is compromised your files may be lost forever.
4. Lost or stolen devices
If you use a laptop for work and the laptop is lost or stolen, your personal files saved locally on your work computer may be lost for good if the device is not retrieved. Your office may not back up a copy of what is saved locally on your computer and if that’s the case, your files would be lost if the device is not found and your office may not be able to help you get them back.
5. Private files can be read by more than just you.
6. What you saved can be used against you
7. No obligation to find your documents if they are lost.
Remember, your office computer is just that your office computer. If you save a personal file to your office computer and it is lost, your office IT staff may tell you that they do not have an obligation to find your personal files, which means they could be lost for good. While most IT staff will try to assist you with locating the files, some IT departments draw the line at locating or supporting you with your personal files even if they are saved on your work computer.
As you can see, you take a big risk when saving your personal files to your office computer and it could end up costing you more than just your files. And if you are a creative working on your book or other creative content on your office computer, you may just lose any rights you have to those files, so do yourself a favor and save your personal files on your personal computer.
*Sample No Expectation of Privacy statements found here - https://www.lawinsider.com/clause/no-expectation-of-privacy