IT Experts Warn: You Should Never Combine Your Work and Personal Devices

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in News May 11, 2021

 Along with the Covid-19 pandemic came a flurry of bad actors aimed and ready to swoop in and take control while the rest of us were looking the other way. Data breaches and ransomware attacks occur at an alarming pace these days, and just about everyone is affected.

ZDNet via an ex-IT pro explains why it is very dangerous to perform personal tasks on your work computer and vice versa. It’s easy to get complacent and start using your work phone to send personal texts or store company files on your laptop so you can work on them at home. However, it not only puts you at risk but your family and your employer. It’s an all-around bad idea to mix business with pleasure.

The Repercussions of Personal Use on Company-Owned Devices

If you visit a personal website or download a malicious attachment on any company-owned property, you could be that weak link that opens up the door to ransomware or a data breach. Even if you are not that person, you could still be fired for the personal use of your company-owned device. In reality, your employer could not just reprimand you but also take you to court, and you could end up with criminal charges or, at the very least steep fines for violating company policy.

Many data breaches that occurred last year were due to employee error where someone was sent a phishing email and took the bait. It is unclear if any of these employees were prosecuted for their part in the destruction.

Blurring the lines between company data and personal is nothing new. According to a study from Malwarebytes in August 2020, ZDNet reported that

“The company found that 53% reported sending or receiving personal email, 52% read news, 38% shopped online, 25% accessed their social media and 22% downloaded or installed non-company software.”

Kaspersky published a similar survey in 2020 that showed “57% of respondents said they checked work email on their smartphone and 36% did work on their personal laptop or desktop. Only 30% said they never used a work device for personal activities.”

Employers Stepping Up Security at Watching You

To ensure better control and head off data breaches and malware infections, more employers are implementing security features in their network, including monitoring all employee devices. So if you are using your company device to send emails, text with friends, or visit sketchy websites, you could be watched by security professionals that work for your employer.

People don’t realize how much data accumulates on a machine just from using it. Even if when you switch jobs or return the device to your employer, if you clean your stuff off it, there will still be traces that could be accessed by a professional. If you care about your privacy at all, never perform any personal function on a company-owned device. The risk is too high, and you could be held liable for all kinds of things. The only way to completely remove all traces of your data is to wipe the hard drive, which you probably aren’t allowed to do.

Keep it Separate

Fixing the issue after it has already caused problems is much harder to do than to avoid it altogether. Take advice from the experts who have seen it all come crashing down far too often, do not use your devices for work, and do not use your company-owned property for personal use. It’s that simple. Keep them separate, and you will avoid a lot of headaches down the road.

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