Amidst the madness that is Coronavirus and exponentially more people working from home, we have social media going crazy with folks showing their “work from home” setups. As with any new development, working from home can be exciting, and because of that there is an urge to share your WFH setup on Instagram or other social media platforms. I’m not going to be a total spoilsport and tell you not to, but if you do make the decision to share your work space, please take the time to stage your environment correctly.

Inferred Information

I have had a number of posts appear on my timeline during the global lockdowns that have contained tremendous amounts of information. None explicitly stated, but information nonetheless. Inferred information is information that I can gather from your environment by examining the picture closely. It’s amazing how much information we write down in various forms and completely forget about! You need to be acutely aware of the information you are sharing without realising you are sharing it. Let’s go through some examples that come directly from my Instagram feed (I am not going to post the pictures here for what are hopefully obvious reasons), starting with the milder cases, through to some real serious info!

Post-Its and Notebooks

Leaving notes lying around, be it in notebooks or on little slips strewn across the desk, is a bad idea. One of the folks I follow had their notepad open on the desk when they took a photo, complete with client names and projects listed in it. Similarly, Post-Its are like little bulls-eyes strewn across your office. The second I see one, I’m going to target it and try and see what information is on it!

Whiteboards and Pin-boards

My pet peeve in any office environment! Leaving info on a whiteboard is a great way to remember it or to refer to it quickly (hell, I do the same here at home), but to share what’s on the whiteboard on your social media is probably not in your best interest. A friend of mine has been releasing cooking videos while being on lockdown, and lo-and-behold her kitchen whiteboard behind her contains her children’s school schedules, her home Wi-Fi password, and their local doctor’s details. Hurrah for 4K video!.

Computer Screens

This is where the real gold comes in. This is one of the more serious offences here, and I see it most frequently. If you’re going to take a photo of your workspace, for the love of all things holy please ensure you don’t have confidential information on your screen. The number of photos I’ve seen with Outlook open on sensitive emails, Word open on contracts, or spreadsheets with financial information is just staggering. Knowing who you are communicating with in lists of emails with subjects such as in Outlook, allows someone to step in to spoof your conversations. Recently, a similar tactic was used by hackers to transfer $1.3m from three British private equity firms by posing as their staff members from a similar domain name. Stage your screens accordingly with dummy data, or turn them off!

Conference Calls

Lastly, and this can be evidenced in the video doing the rounds where a lady is seen to go to the loo during a Zoom call, sharing screenshots and photos of your conference calls on Zoom, Teams or otherwise is already a potential invasion of all the attendees. Whether staged or not, I do have a moral disagreement with that video being shared given that there are people’s names in the video. These names can be searched on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media, after which people are identified. If someone has done something embarrassing in a call, they can easily be identified, contacted, and harassed – something that can be scarring and potentially dangerous. Just don’t do it.

There Are Consequences

Please be discerning in your shares on social media folks! Leaking information, however unintentional, can have serious real world consequences. From losing a job, to harassment, to extortion, these things do happen. Protect yourselves, your families, your employer, and your clients, by not flippantly taking photos of your work space. So, if you are going to take that #workfromhome picture, release your inner Instagram influencer and take the time to stage your environment carefully and securely!

Or, protect your privacy entirely, and don’t post it at all.

Ross G Saunders Consulting is a niche data protection consultancy, working with a number of professional partners in order to help you as a business comply with data protection regulation. They help with business process, compliance, documentation and more, and can offer a full range of services to take the hassle out of data protection. Why not reach out to find out how they can help you gain a competitive advantage while simultaneously garnering support from your existing and potential customers.

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