Keep It on the Lock

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Though that computer may be all yours when you clock in, you run the risk of being clocked out permanently if your employer finds anything a wee bit too personal on their systems.

If you hop on Twitter during your “lunch hour,” (that is, if they haven’t already blocked that along with Facebook and YouTube– haters) that’s your business. Just know that it’s probably not a good idea to channel “LOL :)” on your company’s computer.

Yeah, some girl may send a Twitpic saying “shawty come get this,” but if she finds out you lost your job over it, what are the chances of her returning your IM’s in the future?

At the very least, if you’re going to get personal on your impersonal work computer, can you not do so with your company email account? You do know your employer can find out that it’s you slowing their email network down sending 98 forwards out every hour, right?

Now, before you get frantic and become delete happy, know that a simple deletion might not solve all of your problems. Most operating systems still leave these files open for discovery unless permanently overwritten. Look to software like “Wipe” or “Apple’s Secure Empty Trash” to be sure data you want gone is truly erased.

Or better yet, make friends with someone who works in IT. Let them help you translate all of that tech talk into English.

If you do choose to go the deletion route, note that you might get in trouble for what you delete. Recently there was a story of an ex-employee being sued for deleting files.

Per the article, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) says whoever ‘knowingly causes damage without authorization’ to a networked computer can face civil and criminal liability. The law was actually created to prosecute hackers, but shoddy writing in the legislation leaves some employees open for suits. That’s something to think about before downloading BET’s “Uncut Greatest Hits.” Ahh, classic, just not for work. What’s more, simply marking items “personal” on a computer not belonging to you doesn’t necessarily protect the employee under the CFAA.

So, if you’re not open to potential legal liabilities, your best bet is to invest in a USB memory port and store anything of value on that. And don’t get “caught up”: take that memory port home each day.

Should you find yourself laid off or quit on your own accord, Resignr has some tips on how to remove data before you leave your job for good:

  1. Remove your Browser Data
  2. Download and run Crap Cleaner
  3. Run a Disk Cleanup
  4. Remove All Wireless Networks
  5. Uninstall Softwares
  6. Remove Passwords
  7. Deactivate Licensing
  8. Backup your email
  9. Backup everything else you want from your work computer
  10. Logout and turn in your machine