A Series of Unfortunate Events – Everyone assumes the worst

As part of my being given the opportunity to relaunch my career I had to relinquish the company laptop. This was fair enough as it was company machine, but it allowed the following to unfold.

My laptop had several reports on that the project team wanted. The office manager went onto the machine and was unable to find it. His conclusion? That I had wiped all my files off the machine in a fit of pique.

Just to add insult to injury, he was walking around the office saying this out loud around people I have spent time working with. Word got back to me so I just emailed him what he needed to do to find the file.

I’d like to say I was angry but, in fact, I was just thoroughly disappointed that not only had he assumed the worst but he was also too lazy to talk to IT and get a back-up, or even drop me a quick email to ask what I had done.

In reality, the files were all still there but I use TrueCrypt to protect my files as I take the risk of data loss seriously. Loss can be damaging to one’s reputation, and cost much to fix. To prevent this, for the past few years I have used TrueCrypt to create several virtual drives and then store any files that could have client data in them. Similarly, the local OST files for MS Outlook and the local MS SharePoint files again all got stored in a TrueCrypt volume.

When I close TrueCrypt or shut the laptop down, those drives disappear and all the data is then in encrypted files. If I restart TrueCrypt and enter a nice long passphrase (passwords are too insecure), I suddenly have several volumes back available with all their files.

In the end it was just easier to email the manager and just say “go to IT, ask them to pull my daily back-up of the F:\ drive and ask them to give you files from folder <path>.”

A couple of things struck me about this. Firstly, as a PMI member I have agreed to uphold the PMI Code of Ethics, and I’m pretty sure that wiping your laptop in petty vengeance does not sit in line with the ‘Respect’ section, which the PMI define as:

Respect is our duty to show a high regard for ourselves, others, and the resources entrusted to us. Resources entrusted to us may include people, money, reputation, the safety of others, and natural or environmental resources.

However, given this was his assumption, I think we can assume this is what he will do when he moves or gets the chop. I wonder if his manager has noted that.

Of course, the irony is that I have a copy of Darik’s Boot And Nuke (DBAN) ISO already burned to DVD. I’ve used this application whenever I needed to wipe an old machine before releasing it back to IT. I would have finished copying the old files over and just wiped it to ensure no user or client data is out of jurisdiction. IT ghost the machine anyway, so no problems for them.

As I had DBAN at hand, all I would have needed to do was pop this in, reboot, select and confirm the ‘wipe’ option, and this laptop wouldn’t even have had an OS. It would boot and be otherwise fine, but there would be no data left or recoverable.

But rather than assume I was secure, he assumed I was petty. So very disappointing.

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