Proper use of personal computers

Your boss is furious about the abuse of the company’s resources. You’re facing disciplinary action because of an e-mail that made the rounds over your name. You’re being sacked for breaching corporate security. How could this happen?

Here are some areas where you might be at risk and some tips to ensure that corporate security doesn’t threaten your job security.

E-mail misuse:

Sending sexual, ethnic or racially derogatory correspondence is never a good idea, especially by e-mail. You could be accused of creating a hostile work environment if you send a dirty joke or picture. Beware of self-incriminating e-mail. Saying you’re still drunk at work, speaking negatively about your boss or passing along malicious gossip about a coworker could be grounds for disciplinary action or dismissal.

Dangerous downloads:

Downloading pornography is often grounds for instant dismissal. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s okay because you only surf questionable blogs and porn sites when no one’s around. A seemingly harmless e-mail or website could infect your computer and infiltrate the entire network. If it’s proven you ought to have known better, you could be let go.

Confidentiality breaches:

You have an obligation to protect confidential documents and proprietary information. Avoid using your laptop to read or create classified reports in a public place like an airplane or coffee shop.

Abuse of time:

You’re paid to work, not play. Playing computer games, surfing the net to plan your vacation or downloading music for your MP3 are examples of wasting the company’s time. Even checking your personal e-mail during working hours could impact your career if your employer perceives that it negatively affects your productivity.

Errors in judgment:

Don’t blog at work and never include any comments on a blog or traceable forum that could be detrimental to your career. Even if you blog on your own time from home, if you speak negatively about your employer or hint at trade secrets, you could set yourself up for dismissal.