In the almost post-pandemic world of remote working it’s easier than ever to blur the boundaries between work and personal tech. It could be sending personal texts or emails from your work phone, editing personal documents or photos on your work laptop, or Zooming with friends from your work tablet.

You’re clearly not pressing any nuclear buttons by doing but these types of activities send IT people into paroxysms of irritation, disbelief and anger. This is because storing personal data on your work machine or storing sensitive company data on your personal devices can have serious consequences.

If company data is compromised you could lose your job. Even if it isn’t, but sensitive data is stored on your personal device you could still find yourself turfed out.
  • Not so long ago cyber security was an issue that was best left to the IT team. Today it’s a boardroom concern because of the damage that can be done from a cyber-attack whether its plunging share prices, reputational damage, executives falling on their swords or in some cases businesses folding.
  • Organisations today are generally cyber security savvy and often have security policies which stipulate that work devices are solely for work purposes though many people ignore this. If a device is hacked both personal information and company data is at risk.
  • We're now living in the era of the mega-hack. More than ever, software flaws are being seized on by sophisticated hackers who take these bugs and use them to create attacks that compromise the computer systems of thousands of organisations, all at once.
If these points are not enough to discourage you from using work-issued devices for personal use and vice versa keep in mind that more employers are also monitoring activity on corporate devices as increasing numbers of employees work from home.

According to research up to one in five companies are using technology capable of tracking workers' online activity, or have plans to do so in the future. A study by the UK's Trades Union Congress (TUC) also found that one in seven employees reported that their workplace had increased monitoring and surveillance since the start of the pandemic.

The bottom line is that would you like someone from your company to see personal photos, read your texts or emails, or access your sensitive documents?

  • Further, what do you do when you get a new device? Perhaps you’ve changed jobs. In both cases you need to wipe your personal data from used workplace machines before you hand it in to the IT department.
  • Simply copying and deleting the personal data won't completely protect your privacy. You'd need to wipe the machine's hard drive or physically destroy the drive, something which will likely raise red flags with your company's IT department.
  • You also run the risk of losing access to your data permanently if you fail to copy it all and the machine's drive is wiped or destroyed as part of your employer's computer equipment disposal policy.
Over the past year many of us have blurred the lines between using personal and work devices. It’s an easy thing to do but it’s also potentially risky so now perhaps it’s time to draw sharp boundaries before our privacy is compromised and/or corporate data is lost. Proven protection on your personal devices is essential; including a VPN, but personal data on a work device could spell trouble with a capital T.