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Can this be done safely?

I want to print 2 pdf’s containing personal/banking information from a computer at work. It has CrashPlan Pro running and I don’t want a copy of the files to be made that I can’t delete. I e-mailed myself the files in a password protected rar archive and haven’t opened it yet.

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Well only if you print it encrypted and decode at home. – Andrew Smith Aug 7 '12 at 18:58
Said it before, and I'll say it again: If you don't want your work to have some info, keep it at home. – Iszi Aug 7 '12 at 23:40
Print an encrypted version, then decode it at home. Oh, wait... – Thomas Aug 8 '12 at 6:58
Print the documents at home. You could also open the pdf files within say directly from Google mail. Of course there is still a chance the cache of such browsing will be archived unlikely though. – Ramhound Aug 8 '12 at 15:50
Related:… – Iszi Aug 9 '12 at 17:11
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Take in a USB stick, and print directly from there. Any sanely configured backup solution will ignore removable drives.

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Note that some printing systems keep a copy of what they print. I know mine tends to do that -- it is a PC running CUPS, linked to a USB-only laser printer (it turns the USB-only printer into a network printer, but the files to print must go through a spool directory on the PC, as so many files).

So, if your data is that sensitive, then you should not print it at work (it may be safe, but it requires some rather thorough knowledge of the local network configuration to ascertain that).

As for having files which evade an automatic backup system, then it all depends on what the automatic backup system automatically backs up. @Polynomial's suggestion of using a USB stick is sound -- if you can assume that the backup system is "sanely configured". I would not wage much on that, personally.

(If you have administrator/root rights on your desktop system at work, you could install a VM like VirtualBox, within which you could make a basic Linux installation, and, in that Linux system, create a RAM disk into which you would be able to deposit your precious files, and then have a look at them. This should avoid unwanted copies. But that's a bit extreme and does not solve the printing problem.)

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It does depend on how your IT has set up the backup tool:

  • If it is set to backup all files saved to disk then you'll be out of luck
  • If it is set to back up every day at a particular time, extract and print them right after that, but be aware that unless you use a secure delete tool there will be remnants.

The standard practice at most companies is that anything done on corporate machines is fair game for being logged and assessed - this is a simple activity to provide some comfort to the company that they are not being defrauded/hacked etc.

For this particular case, you may be defrauding the company of the paper and ink required to print out the pdf's. Some companies take a hard line, some don't care unless you start publishing novels etc., but just be aware.

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Anything that leaves your computer must be assumed to be copied and potentially intercepted and/or backed up. Printers don't just steam bits to paper, there are many processing steps which might make files.

Buy a home printer, or stop being paranoid.

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