The Weirdest Things IT Workers Have Found On Company Laptops

Employers often warn employees against clicking strange links that could invite malware onto their corporate networks — but they also need to remind them not to mix their personal lives with their corporate laptops.

If you talk to enough IT pros, you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that if you live your personal life on your business computer, chances are someone will see it later.

With that in mind, here are some things that show up on company-owned laptops and probably almost all computers and devices.

1. Porn

Oh well. Still, some company laptops given away by employees, usually when they leave the job but also when they simply upgrade to a better laptop, contain a surprising amount of sexual material.

There are times I’ve scanned company computers or tracked internet activity to find that an executive was watching six to eight hours of porn every…single…day,” he says Nicel Adams, owner of Niezel Corpan information technology consulting services company in Chicago.

Adams said some people leave their own adult photos, sometimes mixed in with their family photos.

2. Illegally Downloaded Movies, Music and TV

According to Adams, this is also fairly common. Trust me, at least 3% to 5% of employees in any company do this,” he says.

An executive working for an Adams client was distributing cellular hotspots to sales reps.

“Remember that these hotspots share a common pool of data. So when one or two hotspots start consuming more than 200GB of data per month when each should only be using 4GB, it’s noticeable and affects everyone. The overage fees were astronomical. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars accumulated over a period of time,” he says.

3. Old love letters

Andreas Grant is a network security engineer based in Stockholm, Sweden and runs a website, network hardware, which helps users choose the right networking equipment for their home. But Grant started his career as an IT assistant, responsible for managing a company’s employee laptops. He said he once found a returned employee laptop that had a love letter—an incomplete love letter—written on it.

“Both the intended recipient and the author were still working in the office, so it felt strange to have that knowledge. In the end I didn’t report any of it, but it was definitely a great lesson for me to be careful,” Grant says.

Remember – if you’re holding a torch for someone in your office and you’ve recorded your feelings in a Word document, consider whether you want all of your co-workers to know about it.

4. An unpublished novel with unflattering remarks

“We once found a novel that an employee wrote,” says Anthony Cummings, IT Services Director at Frank recruitment groupthat specializes in recruiting IT professionals.

It was a former employee who had just turned in a laptop. “There’s nothing unusual about that,” Cummings said — e.gAside from the fact that as he began to read the 150,000 words, trying to see what they meant and if they could be erased, the setting and many of the characters began to feel really, really familiar to him.

The novel was essentially a fictional story about Frank Recruitment, and the characters were fairly unflattering, says Cummings.

5. Strange stuff on, not in the laptop

SSometimes people close their laptops and leave stuff inside, wedged between the monitor and the keyboard.

Corey Donovan, president of Minnesota-based Alta Technologies, sees this a lot.

He says his company, which buys and sells new, used, and refurbished servers, removes drives for erasure as soon as they arrive and the systems never really boot up.

So Donovan doesn’t know what’s actually in the laptops he gets, but what he sees on them Outside of them is bad enough. Chewing gum, candy bars and pencils are stuck in many laptops. (Alta Technologies gets a lot of laptops from schools.)

But according to Donovan, many adults leave stuff on their laptops, too.

“We had a lot of laptops with physical Post-Its labeled with bank accounts, passwords, logins, and even 12-word crypto wallet recovery sentences,” says Donovan. “Our staff will shred any material like this, but not all downstream recipients may be as ethical.”

Eric Strickler is CEO of PCRx Inc, a provider of managed services for small and medium-sized businesses. Years ago, however, his company repaired computers. He, too, has found really weird things pounded into laptops, ranging from harmless to gross. On the harmless side, a bobby pin, a safety pin, and grits and oatmeal – somewhat normal, if odd. On the rough side: a used condom; cat vomit; a person’s vomit; dead insects; a dead baby lizard; Alcohol; Urine.

This often happened with laptops owned by college students. Why, “I just never found out,” says Strickler.

6. Criminal Activities

Yes, that also happens. Adams said he once erased everything on an executive’s laptop and found videos of women’s feet and areas of the body that would normally be obscured by clothing.

Adams was familiar with the video’s surroundings — the carpet, the desk — and sure enough, when he and a security guard checked, there was a small web camera under the boss’s desk with cables leading to the laptop’s docking station. The company’s security team took it from there.

Sometimes working in IT is a reminder that there is a much darker side to life that thankfully the vast majority of people will hopefully never experience.”

A few things to remember

Ideally, when you bring your laptop, computer, phone, or similar items to recycling, you get rid of the information yourself rather than letting someone else do it. and you You really need to erase your hard drive – your computer has settings that can do that for you – rather than, say, trying to physically damage the laptop, which may or may not work.

“We’ve seen people hit a hard drive with a hammer and thought the data had been erased. Unfortunately, that’s not the case,” he says Rahul Mahna, Managing Director of Managed Security Services Eisner Amper Digitalan auditing and tax office.

Mahna adds that many people’s computers end up in the local dump because they think the recycling center will destroy them.

“They leave behind all kinds of data and don’t realize that people are actually going to the landfill and taking valuable assets like memory, hard drives and graphics cards out of computers and then having access to the data that’s there,” Mahna says.

It’s also important to remember to continually protect your personal or business information on your company laptop or other device while you’re using it, says Eric Sackowitz, co-founder and chief technical officer of SecureCoa business-to-business cybersecurity and internet privacy company.

In other words, don’t worry so much about your data being stolen or viewed later that you forget to protect it now.

But Sackowitz agrees that leaving your personal life behind on company laptops is definitely a problem.

“In my 35 years of working on IT teams large and small, I’ve found many interesting ‘leftovers’ on machines that were abandoned when an employee left, or discarded equipment that was part of an upgrade,” says Sackowitz. He said among those items were “bank information, personal pictures, videos, resumes, emails to relatives, dating/gaming apps, plain text documents with account passwords, and even family social security numbers and dates of birth, including their children.”

And that should scare everyone. You might not worry about an IT team discovering photos of you in your birthday suit and think you lead an extremely boring life on your laptop. But when the wrong person finds your personal information, they can find you absolutely fascinating.

Read the full article here The Weirdest Things IT Workers Have Found On Company Laptops

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