What to do with forgotten flash drives?
November 10, 2009 5:04 PM Subscribe
For those of you who work in computer labs, what is your policy for dealing with flash drives that have been forgotten by a student?
posted by anonymous to Education (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a teacher at a small college in the computer department. Three or four flash drives are forgotten by someone in our computer labs every week. The lab supervisor puts these drives on a plate near his desk, which is accessible to anyone walking by. I do know of at least one case where a drive was found, and the next day, it was gone (and it wasn't picked up by the owner).
Shouldn't these drives be treated with the same care as someone's wallet or purse? Could we be liable if someone is a victim of identity theft because their drive was easily taken from the lost-and-found? If we look at the contents of a drive in an effort to figure out who it belongs to, what happens if a student blames us for anything from deleting their homework file to stealing their passwords?
There is no campus-wide policy on this, as far as I know. The lab supervisor is really a good guy in general (and has been there forever and is well-loved), but I don't think he really gets how valuable these drives can be to someone who has all their work (and possibly passwords and other sensitive information) saved on it. Or how valuable they can be to someone who wants easy access to that kind of information.
So, what do you do in your lab? Do you lock drives up? Do you plug the drive in and look through the contents in order to figure who the owner is? Do you make an effort to contact the owner? Is there a sane policy or procedure we could put in place that doesn't cause too much extra work for the lab staff and also protects the drives and ourselves?
Apologies for the length and anonymity, but I don't have tenure yet, so I'd like to not associate my name with potential conflicts with long-time beloved employees. If you want to email me directly, use firstname.lastname@example.org.