Updated 27 March 2014

5 ways your PC can get you fired

If your employer paid for your PC or laptop, it's theirs and not yours. It's best to keep your personal stuff off its drives. Here's why.

Though you may work in front of your ‘personal computer’ everyday, it still belongs to the company and not you, so keep your personal stuff off its drives.

If you have to save personal files on your work computer, make sure to save them deep in Windows, so that potential saboteurs will struggle to find them in the unlikely event of them acquiring unauthorised access to your computer.

Make sure that any personal information you save on your work computer is of a ‘safe’ nature, and features no reference to how much you might hate your boss, or your plans to topple management by the end of the year.

Better yet, save this information on CD, DVD or even your flash-drive or cell phone's memory stick. This ensures your own personal confidentiality, and keeps all those family pics and letters off your work computer's already clogged-up hard drive.

The science of ethics
If you could easily get away with plagiarising entire essays at university and get the marks for it, don’t think that the same applies at work.

Plagiarism is a big issue in the working world. Copying information from the internet without permission could result in your company having to fork out vast sums of money in legal fees and costs, not to mention having to remove you quietly from the payroll.

Before using images or quotes, make sure you are up to speed with the copyright status of that material, and do not under any circumstances use the stuff if it is not in the public domain, or you don't have permission to use it.

You’ve been working with your loudmouth colleague for half a decade, and nothing would be more pleasurable for you than to get onto his computer and delete his files.

Don’t do it. If you are caught in the act, you could kiss goodbye to ever working in front of a computer ever again.

You’ve watched ‘Hackers’ and you think you can get into your server. Not a good idea.

Data transfer monitors will be tracking your every move, and though you may stumble over the CEO’s porn collection somewhere deep on the server, you’ll probably be clearing your desk within the hour for breaching company policy.

Chat your job away
So you spent the whole night chatting to Nuwanda on the net, and you’ve decided she’s your soulmate. You then spend your whole day chatting to your virtual bronzed beauty, forgetting entirely about the annual report you’re supposed to hand in before five o’ clock.

Although online communications have become a part of our modern world, spending hours online chatting during work could land you in some serious trouble. Sitting on Facebook or Twitter or chat sites all day is no different than going for coffee with a mate and coming back three hours later.

Chat programmes and websites also consume bandwidth, something your employer may not be too happy about. Your picture stash of Nuwanda in her new polka dot bikini may also get you in trouble when IT comes around for their annual random hard-drive check.

(Warren Vonk,, updated February 2012)

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