I started working with this startup company 5 months ago. From the first day I started, they got me a laptop dedicated for me and I have been using it since then.

last week, we had a push as we arrived to a deadline. Due to my manager's issue with his laptop, we had to deploy the release version from my laptop.

On Sunday night, where Monday was the representation of the release, we were putting the final touches and we were supposed to take Monday off. My Manager asked for access to my laptop, since he will be in the morning around the marketing team and support them for any urgent easy fixes.

I gave full access (current password) with all my personal stuff still on it (Chrome favorites and bookmarks, passwords Gmail... etc.)

When I came on Tuesday, I noticed an Admin User different than my usual user, which has a password that I don't know.

I don't know to what stuff they have access in that user and I feel I have the right to ask. How can I do that properly?

  • 1
    Releasing from a personal laptop? Your startup is big enough to afford a marketing team, but not a build server or even a spare laptop for the boss? Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 8:01
  • Heading to work atm, but will answer later. @JuliaHayward implied, your current practices to code release to prod is unusual.
    – Anthony
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 11:30
  • Sorry, "personal" in the sense that it's allocated to the OP, not reserved for the purposes of releases Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 18:48
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    @JuliaHayward we are the only two developers, and we push our code into one repository, but his laptop had issues and could not deploy the application to test devices so we had to do it from my (company's) laptop
    – Sandra K
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 21:58
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    What probably happened is that the IT team created another user on your laptop for the manager's use. This way his own data (logins, browsing history etc) remains in it and doesn't appear in yours. This is exactly what you should have done instead of giving your own password.
    – Adwiv
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


Here's a lesson learnt: the company-provided computer and everything on it is the company property. The company, and by extension any of its employees with sufficient authority, can do with that computer whatever they want at any time. You should not store any information on it that you don't want other people to access.

You can, of course, ask if they have accessed any of your personal information on the laptop and if yes, what they did with that information. Be prepared, however, to hear in response something that boils down to the paragraph above. It might also seem awkward, as you would be implying that you suspect the person to purposefully access your private information.

Imagine leaving a private letter, face down, on your work desk and then seeing someone standing next to it; would you confront that person asking if they have by chance read your letter?

Besides, there's not much you can do now regardless of what their answer might be, except may be making sure you remove any private information from the laptop and stop saving passwords to your private email and social media accounts.

A couple of other points:

  • If you normally performed your work on the computer using a non-admin account, you would not need to give administrator privileges to another person (your manager) and they would not then have a chance to create another administrator login.

  • It's not clear from the question if your usual account's administrator privileges have been revoked, or simply another admin user has been created. If it's the former, and you legitimately need admin privileges to do your job, you are within your rights to request that your admin privileges be restored, but you should be prepared to prove you really need them. If it's the latter, you can ask if that new account is not needed anymore and could be removed.

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    Learn this lesson early. I've seen enough reports of people doing very private things on their work computer (not even laptop) that gets them criminally prosecuted. Do NOT treat any company issued property as 'yours'.
    – Nelson
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 6:51
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    @Nelson Same goes for phones and other equipment too. I've heard too many stories about people having personal files and photos wiped from their work phone upon termination of employment. No warning, no opportunity to back anything up, just gone.
    – jcam3
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 15:11
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    We had a case years back where one of the largest employers in the area fired over half the staff due to stuff found on company computers.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 18:04
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    @jcam3 the scary thing is you can download apps that can allow this to happen on your personal phone.
    – Nelson
    Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 23:14

If this is a work laptop, then associating your personal passwords is always a risk. If I was you, I would just ask your manager if someone else was using your laptop and what was done with it. This may come off as suspicious, but understandable. Just tell them that you have security concerns.

You have the right to ask, but just remember to be polite about it since this is a work laptop and not your personal property.


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