I think we can all agree that computers and technology make our lives easier, more efficient, and can problem-solve like nobody’s business. They can also be sources of frustration, safety concerns, and utter chaos if things fail or the computer is lost, stolen, or otherwise breaks. Given that computers, including desktops, tablets, laptops, and smartphones are here to stay in both our personal lives and the business world, we thought it would be a good idea to review things that should never be done to your computer, or behaviors that could put your devices in jeopardy.
What Are The Risks?
Over the years, we have discussed potential risks that can occur often with personal and business computers including phishing scams, ransomware, malware, Man-in-the-Middle Attacks, DDoS attacks, and many more. Many of these can be avoided by following best practices when using a computer. Not opening suspicious emails or attachments, maintaining current software and updated security patches, and having an IT specialist who can help you along the way as your business evolves can help you avoid these risks as much as possible. Here are a few of our own personal ideas on what to avoid doing on or near your computer to mitigate some of those risks.
#1 Don’t Practice Unhealthy Computer Behaviors at Work/Home
Over the course of the pandemic, many of us became accustomed to working from home, using our own devices, or cutting corners in terms of following basic rules of safety. Now is the time to tighten back up those unhealthy computer behaviors and start using best practices when it comes to computer security. To do this, computers that are meant for work should contain only business data that is secured by your organization's security systems. Don’t store your personal data including passwords, banking information, or other personal data on your work computer. This is asking for trouble and could result in a loss of your personal information in the case of a data breach at work. In addition to not storing personal data on your work computer, be sure not to do the opposite in storing business data on your less secure personal computers or devices. While we are reviewing potentially unhealthy computer behaviors, it should go without saying that visiting risky sites such as insecure sites or those that you are not familiar with should be off limits.
#2 Don’t Let Family/Friends Use It
When we were all working remotely it was common to have multiple computers around the house in use simultaneously. They were often left open for all to see and were commonly used by family members to search for something quickly or use it for their own work or school assignments. This practice should be discontinued as it could put your business data at risk or be considered a breach of company policy.
#3 Don’t Install Unknown Apps or Software
It can be tempting to install the newest apps or software that seems to make your work life easier and faster, but avoid this unless you know and trust the source. Be very discerning about what you download onto your computer as many can have malicious software that will find access to your data, often without your knowledge.
#4 Don’t Leave It Open or Unprotected
There are a couple of reasons not to leave your laptop or desktop open or unprotected. First, the keyboard is one of the great vulnerabilities of the device. Spills, crumbs, dust and so on can damage your computer and render it unusable due to these occurrences. Another reason not to leave your laptop open is that it could be a security risk. This is especially true if you are traveling for work and step away from it at an airport, hotel, or coffee shop even if just for a second. Thieves and cybercriminals have been known to access abandoned computers in these locations.
#5 Don’t Drink Or Eat While on Your Laptop
In past blogs, we have covered how tempting it can be to work during lunch and get your meal in while doing some work. Avoid this not only for your mental health but also for the fact that many computers see an untimely death due to spills or accidents while a user is enjoying a bite and a drink.
#6 Don’t Forget A Surge Protector
While in the workplace, your computers are most likely cared for by a Managed Service Provider or an IT department that will care for the physical and electrical health of all the devices. At home, you should take precautions from power surges during storms by utilizing a surge protector. (please note that not all multiple-plug power strips include surge protection - must include a fuse!) It is a simple item to buy online or at a neighborhood hardware store, but it could save you lots of frustration should a surge occur in your area.
#7 Don’t Forget About Updates
Seems like this one might be a no-brainer but you would be shocked at how many users put off updating their devices on a regular basis. Make it part of your computer behaviors’ best practices to stop and update whenever you receive alerts to do so.
#8 Don’t Forget About High Heat and Falls
With the summer heating up, remember to remove your devices from your car. Never leave a tablet, smartphone, or laptop in a hot car. The device will not only overheat but could become permanently disabled. On the same line of thought, avoid carrying your devices around without some sort of protection including a tablet sleeve or laptop clover. Accidents happen all the time that cause computers to crash to the floor. It’s better if there is some level of protection when this inevitably happens.
#9 Never Save Your Passwords to The Browser
Autofilling passwords may seem like a great idea when you are short on time and don’t want to rely on your password manager to do it for you, but avoid leaving those passwords on the browser. Should your devices be taken away for repairs, stolen, or you are terminated, your personal passwords will be gone with the device.
#10 Never “Reply All”
This one is a little pet peeve of many computer users. Avoid replying to all the people included in your email chain. Not only is this overwhelming to handle, but it can also be a way to accidentally send an email that was not meant for everyone's eyes. Knowing the right and wrong behaviors around computers can be the difference between having a healthy computer with secure data and having one that is risky or vulnerable to attack.