Employees are increasingly using portable storage devices
(PSDs), such as USB keys and external hard drives in the workplace.
With the attraction of PSDs user-friendly technical capabilities
and physical characteristics, and the advent of online
'cloud' storage facilities, such usage will inevitably
continue to expand. However, these technologies do not come without
The use of PSDs makes businesses' information increasingly
susceptible to loss, theft and misuse. Of significant concern is
the increasing incidence of employees using PSDs to take and copy
from their employer private and business-sensitive information,
without authorisation. A number of recent cases in the US have
involved situations where former employees have taken thousands of
pages of highly sensitive and confidential documents on leaving
In order to minimise this risk, employers should:
prohibit staff from using privately owned PSDs at work
introduce software and hardware controls to better regulate and
ensure the safe and secure use of PSDs
introduce measures to monitor and track the use of PSDs within
the workplace and to ensure appropriate investigations into and
responses to any loss of devices
protect confidential information and intellectual property
through well drafted employment contracts and confidentiality
Should sensitive information nevertheless fall into the wrong
hands, employers can seek recourse for legal infractions through
the courts. Courts may order forensic analyses of computer
hardware, injunctions against employees, orders for delivery up of
property and damages for violations of legal obligations, such as
those in employment contracts.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Those types of personal disclosure may still be permitted under the Privacy Act as long as your house is in order.
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