[SOLVED] Securely copying an employer hard drive....it's weird

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aviodont

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This may be out of left field and it may even be in the wrong forum heading, so please move if necessary.

Please bear with the backstory. I work for an employer who has given me a laptop (with "trade secrets" and proprietary software) when I commenced employment. Due to some unethical business practices, I no longer want to be associated with this company. And because I do not "play along to get along", they are actively looking to replace me. It is not easy to find a replacement for me and conversely, it is not easy for me to find a new company. Although it may be slightly easier for me. We have a contract that requires 60 day notice for termination without cause from either party. However, part of the contract allows for immediate dismissal of me "for cause". In other words, if I do shady things.

My concern, although unlikely, is that to avoid having to pay me for 60 days of work, they will try to plant evidence of wrongdoing. Yesterday, they asked me to return my laptop so another employee can use it. Seems odd, but OK, it is their computer. It is currently at home and I told them I would return it next week. I am careful about my person, but I would not put it past my company to "find" evidence of something bad on the laptop, thereby allowing them to terminate the contract immediately.

I am trying to find a way to document that I handed them a computer with no bad stuff on it. I wanted to get others opinion on this.

My thoughts were:
1) make a copy myself (breaches my contract, but who cares) and then hand it to them. But they could just say that I erased the bad stuff from my copy.

2) have a 3rd party (perhaps a computer store) make a copy (still a breach) and seal it somehow. The company could still say that I had it deleted, but having a 3rd party may make it seem more legit.

3) have a 3rd party certify they they destroyed the hard drive (probably a breach) and have them put a new one in. The problem would be that it would not have the proprietary software.

4) Same as #3 above, but just buy them an equivalent or more expensive computer.

5) any other ideas?

I know it seems like a weird question. Even proofreading it, I can see how an outsider would think this was a little over the top. But it is what it is. I wish I never took the computer.
 

Ketchup79

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Aug 7, 2019
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1. Lawyer up.
It is their laptop, their property.
As USAFRet said, it all comes down to the device being their laptop, and their property. You can think all day about what you can do to come back at them if they try to screw you over, but it doesn't change the fact that it is their equipment. Most decent lawyers will at least talk to you about what they can offer before they start taking your money. Depending on your situation, that may be an option.

Personally, I would delete everything personal (a RESTORE option, if equipped, would be great here) and use some type of data shredder for free space on the drive. The free app Ccleaner has one built-in.

Segway: This is why, for every company I have worked for that gave me a laptop to use for both "personal and business" use, I install a VM and use that for anything personal.
 

aviodont

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Oct 10, 2015
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5) Lawyer up.

6) The concept "chain of custody" invalidates your 1-4.


It is their laptop, their property.
If they state that you have installed or deleted something from it, #5 comes into play.
After I posted, I was thinking the attorney route.

I have never saved anything personal on it. I have only used it for work purposes one time ( I don't do any work from home) and when I am at work, it is a pain in the arse to find a cat5 cable to connect it to their network, so I just use their desktops.

In a hypothetical world, if I breached my contract and copied the drive, I doubt that it is criminal. It would be a civil case and I would lose. I am not too worried about that. And they would only know about the breach if I came out publicly with it. I would only come out publicly if they accused me by holding up a drive which they altered post-surrender.

And, on the other hand, if it was lost, stolen or destroyed, I would have to "make them whole" and the best way to do that would be an equivalent laptop.

I think what I was getting at was "the chain of custody" thing. Just could not think of the words.

But you are right, it may be time to lawyer up.
 

Rogue Leader

It's a trap!
Moderator
I think this thread has reached the end of where we can reply to it. As mentioned you've considered a lawyer, and you know the consequences of your other considered actions. We can no longer help so this thread is closed.
 

aviodont

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Oct 10, 2015
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This sounds like you are contemplating stealing the company's intellectual property to use for your own purposes.

We can't assist in such matters.
If I was contemplating stealing from this unethical company, why would I ask for advice? One could "just do it". So I do not need "assistance" with something I am not contemplating.

I am trying to figure a way to protect myself from their shenanigans, even though it will likely cost me a significant amount of money to do so.
 

COLGeek

Cybernaut
Moderator
If I was contemplating stealing from this unethical company, why would I ask for advice? One could "just do it". So I do not need "assistance" with something I am not contemplating.

I am trying to figure a way to protect myself from their shenanigans, even though it will likely cost me a significant amount of money to do so.
This explanation makes the legal route your only viable option. If you have this degree of contentiousness with your employer, then you have bigger issues than previously described.
 
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