If you’re like most business professionals, you spend more of your day in front of a computer than away from it. There’s a danger in familiarity, however, because you may be inclined to relax a little and treat your work computer as if it were your own.
Don’t do it. Many companies reserve the right to keep tabs on what you’re doing online. There may be procedures in place for monitoring your electronic behavior that you aren’t even aware of. Crossing a line can not only get your fired — it can land you in jail.
Here are some of the most common ways that people get into trouble through the computer at work:
Music, movies, games, art, software and more are all out there online — seemingly for the taking. But illegally downloading in violation of copyright laws is a type of intellectual property piracy. Companies can be very unforgiving of illegal downloads because they’re well aware of the potential for a big federal fine. They’ll gladly turn you over to the authorities to protect their own interests.
Skip the peer-to-peer file-sharing sites and other places where you can’t be sure what you’re downloading is legal.
Do you always lock your keyboard or screen when you walk away from your computer? If not, you’re really playing with fire. Anybody could come along after you step away from your desk and use your computer to access secure files.
Not only could someone potentially steal information or money from the company with the right access to sensitive files, but they could make it look like you were the person who did it.
It may not surprise you, but about 30% of office workers admit that they occasionally look at adult-oriented websites while they’re on the job. All of those people are taking a big risk that they’re going to be caught by their employers.
Some internet pornography and sexually-oriented chats can also be illegal, at which point you may be facing criminal charges as well as professional disaster.
All of this is to say that it’s wise to be careful with your internet access at work. If you do have a problem, make sure that you take steps to protect your legal rights.