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The Ledger - EST. 1978 - Nashville Edition

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VOL. 37 | NO. 20 | Friday, May 17, 2013

Be careful what you type, view on company computers

By Brad Schmitt

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You know that e-mail or Facebook post that you deleted at work? It’s not really deleted.

Computer security experts say almost anything you type on a computer can be found – and you have little privacy protections.

“It’s the age-old adage from 20 years ago – the Internet is written in ink,” says independent computer security expert Bryant Tow of Nashville.

“And once you send it to one person, it’s out there and there’s no getting it back.”

This is particularly true if you send any photos, e-mails or social media posts from a company computer or phone.

Even if you’re at work but you sign onto your Yahoo or Gmail account, it can be accessed by your company’s IT personnel.

“If the computer you have or the systems you access don’t belong to you, there is no presumption of privacy whatsoever,” he adds.

“Your employer has every right to see everything and anything. If you’re going into work and using Yahoo or Gmail, the fact of the matter is, that even though you’ve logged into another system, it still comes from your employers’ system. So they can see it.”

Even if you delete it, and even if you empty your deleted files folder.

Nashville-based DSi often collects data from businesses involved in legal wrangling, and a DSi executive says they can almost always find deleted files.

“When we perform collection, many times we’re collecting not just your e-mail on your machine, but the exchange database, and those could be things you thought you deleted,” says John Burchfield, DSi vice president of business development.

“Files could get overwritten, but some fragments of your file remain. We could take bit by bit a copy of your drive, can identify file fragments and try to piece together and reassemble information,” he adds.

“It’s a misconception to think what you deleted, we can come back and find your word file. But we can find chunks of files.”

And DSi is good at it, according to Chad Schmidt, marketing/communications director for Counsel on Call, one of DSi’s regular clients.

“There’s no such thing as something they can’t find,” Schmidt says. “If it’s been entered into something, they find it.”