A stolen laptop and a potential acquisition from a competitor: what to do in a dangerous situation

Our vice president had a laptop computer stolen from his car, loaded with details of a potential competitor acquisition. What should we do?

Joe McKendry / The Globe and Mail

Cyber ​​nightmares can happen to the best of us, even security expert Terry Cutler. “Years ago I went to a business dinner and left my computer in my truck,” he says. Cutler had protected himself in advance (encrypted hard drives, strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, etc.), but let’s assume your VP isn’t that savvy when it comes to security. “If you’re lucky, the laptop was stolen by an ordinary thief who has no other plan than to wipe out everything on it and sell it,” Cutler explains. “But anyone with computer knowledge will want to know what’s on top. And if you’re particularly unlucky, theft could be a targeted act that leads to extortion. As unlikely as the latter is, now is not the time to take risks. “You have to report to the police and you have to confess to your client,” says Cutler, “because if you don’t tell them and their information is compromised, you will be sued. This dire worst-case scenario far outweighs the momentary embarrassment of admitting a violation, not to mention the looming fear of whether (or when) the error will be discovered. Honesty is the best policy, as it often is, and then you can classify this incident under lessons learned. “Secure your computers and accounts, hire a professional if you don’t know how, and never leave your laptop in the car,” says Cutler.

Can I make the company policy not to hire smokers?

If this is your business, you can do whatever you want. But before establishing this official policy, stop for a minute to consider all the reasons why you shouldn’t. “This mainly concerns human rights law,” explains labor lawyer Stephen LeMesurier of Monkhouse Law, “which prohibits discrimination in hiring on the basis of protected grounds”. Don’t you remember a citizen’s right to trim their buttocks? “Smoking is not a protected ground, but it could be considered an addiction, which is considered a handicap,” explains LeMesurier. Human rights complaints about smoking are rare, although the most recent was in Kelowna, BC (the employer has quietly settled in). Unless smoking in some way affects a worker’s ability to do their job – whether they’re a nutritionist or a Nicorette salesperson, for example – no official written policy is worth the legal risk of asking. to someone if he smokes. If you are anti-smoking, consider redirecting your efforts to instead offering resources to help smokers quit.

Am I disconnected if I don’t think baseball caps should be worn to work, even on casual Fridays?

Just like every office is different, explains fashion consultant Anja Potkonjak from Alphamale Styling, not all baseball caps are created equal. Potkonjak has been styling men for 14 years, during which time she has seen a change in fashion in the workplace that sometimes, perhaps, includes baseball caps. “There is certainly a particular startup culture of young CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg wearing casual jeans and t-shirts, and there are trendy men who can dress a hat and make it work, but in general, baseball caps are too casual for business, ”she says. (Ditto for sweatpants and sandals.) That said, be aware that a firm no-hat policy directly undermines so-called “casual” Friday, and you can’t have it both ways, unless you can. be creative. “I would try to make it fun and suggest a monthly baseball cap day,” says Potkonjak. Hopefully, hat wearers read the subtext and leave this thing at home for the other 29 days or so of the month.

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