Hello dear readers and welcome to the latest instalment of my weekly blog! As an expert IT engineer with more than two decades experience in IT support for businesses, I spend a considerable portion of my life in the digital world. Over the years, I’ve learned a few important habits to keep my digital life running smoothly. These are essentially my IT “commandments” – tips, tricks, best practices, and things I would absolutely never do on my work computer or my private computer for that fact. Would you like a sneak peek? Well, you’re in luck! Today, I’m sharing my commandments with you in the hope they might help you keep your digital space safer and more efficient.
Okay, with the formalities out of the way, let’s get started and discover what are the top 10 things you should never do with your work computer!
1. Never Neglect Updates on your Work Computer
Updates aren’t just shiny new features for your operating system or software. They also patch vulnerabilities and fix bugs. Think of it like servicing your car: it keeps it running smoothly and prevents problems down the road. So, every time you see a notification for a software or system update, don’t ignore it. You could save yourself from a whole world of digital trouble. The updates are not only for your operating system but for every piece of software that you have on your computer. It could be an update for Office or your web browser. If there is ever a new version, I would install it. This is an important rule to remember, especially if it is on our work computer and you access sensitive data.
2. Never Surf Without Protection on your Work Computer
Browsing the internet without an antivirus is like walking through a thunderstorm without an umbrella—you’re asking to get soaked! An antivirus is your first line of defence against malware, ransomware, and a host of other nefarious digital critters. Some people say, “I only visit safe sites.” Maybe so, but remember, not all threats announce their presence and not every safe website is what it seems. Even websites that seem harmless can carry hidden threats. There is a chance that the safe site you just opened was hacked and it’s now spreading viruses. Never assume that a website is safe.
3. Never Use The Same Password Everywhere
This is my favourite. If I received £1 for every time someone told me that they have used the same password on multiple devices, then I would be a millionaire several times over. It really is one of most common mistakes you can make! I know creating new passwords is a boring task. We all live super busy lives and creating a new password is just another dull speed bump in the road. But think of it like this – using the same password is like having one key for your house, car, and safe deposit box. If you lose it, you’ve lost everything! The same rule applies to passwords. Using the same password across multiple sites means that if one site gets breached, all your accounts are at risk. If you check how many websites you access with a password, you’ll find a list of hundreds or even thousands. But don’t worry – there is a long-term solution. Ware getting into the era of passkeys, which aim to eliminate passwords altogether. Until then, we’ll have to bear with passwords for a bit longer, but there is a shorter-term answer to and that’s password managers. These are like a secure vault that remembers all your passwords for you. Even better, you only have to remember ONE master password and the rest of my passwords are safely stored there.
4. Never Open Suspicious Emails
This one is straight out of basic IT 101. Emails promising unexpected fortunes, or threats demanding immediate action are often phishing attempts, where scammers try to trick you into revealing sensitive information. If an email looks suspicious, it probably is. Trust your instincts and don’t click on any links or download attachments from these emails. If you get an email that looks legitimate such as from your boss or someone in your team, but your spider senses tell you it’s off then please grab your phone and call the sender to double check it’s legitimate before clicking on any links in the email or acting on its instructions.
5. Never Click on Suspicious Links
Links can appear on your screen from so many sources. The most common is via email, but there are other ways to send you a link too. It could be from a Web browser popup, from Messaging apps such as WhatsApp (or similar) or SMS app. Always ensure that the link is from a legitimate website. Please check if the spelling of the domain name is correct, and if the part of a link you can see does not just show what you suppose to see but the whole name. Always check the latter is correct. If in doubt, check out one of my previous blog posts on this very subject, which goes into more detail on phishing scams and shares advice on how to protect yourself- How to Stop Phishing.
6. Never Dismiss Backups
We all love our digital memories: photos, videos, and important documents. Imagine losing them all in a sudden hard drive failure or if your device is stolen. That’s why I always make backups, storing a copy of my data in a separate location like an external drive or a cloud service. It’s like having an insurance policy for your data. Remember, a computer can be replaced, but lost data is gone forever.
7. Never Open Personal Data on Your Work Computer
Many people consider their work devices as their personal devices too, even when they’re not. We get comfortable and familiar because we use work devices for many hours every day. This can lead to situations where it is easier to do some of our private housekeeping on our work computer, even if this as innocent as buying something from Amazon or browsing social media on our personal account on our lunch break. However, because this is a business machine you might not have total control of what is happening with such a device. Who else has access? Can other colleagues monitor your activity? It’s best to avoid doing anything personal on a work device just to be safe. You want to avoid situations when someone else could browse your photos from Facebook or look through your personal documents.
8. Never Forget Physical Cleanliness
Dust and grime are not just unsightly; they can also cause your computer to overheat, which in turn could damage your hardware. So, how often should you clean your device? If you don’t have to dismantle the machine to clean it, then it could be every few months but generally I would do it when my computer fan starts to go full throttle even with basic tasks. The amount of dust depends on your location and work environment. I have seen some places where the dust settled incredibly fast while other devices elsewhere were almost dust free. If you have a thick layer of dust on your desk, the chances are you will have to clean inside your computer more frequently. Just remember to turn off and unplug your computer first. Also, don’t forget to clean your keyboard and mouse. These are the parts of your computer you touch the most, so keeping them clean helps keep you healthy too!
9. Never Install Software From Untrusted Sources on your Work Computer
If you find a site offering premium software for free, it’s likely too good to be true. In the past, when software cost thousands of pounds, using a free online version was appealing to some, but those days are long gone. The industry has changed and now almost every piece of software can be accessed in a safe way as a subscription service. For an affordable cost, you can access the latest edition of almost every piece of current software from a legitimate source. Additionally, we now have a much large choice of programs that can do similar tasks too. As long as it is from a reputable source you should be ok.
10. Never Ignore Your Privacy Settings
Don’t just click ‘Agree’ without reading the small print when you’re installing new software or creating an account online. Take a few moments to go through the privacy settings. This can help you control what information you’re sharing, who you’re sharing it with, and how it can be used. The same applies to all website cookie popups; spend time to disallow as much as possible. In the long run, you will leave less of a digital footprint behind, and you will be considerably safer.
11. Never Leave Your Webcam Uncovered
In the era of Zoom meetings and virtual hangouts, our webcams are in use more than ever before. However, webcams can also be a target for hackers, resulting in a serious invasion of privacy. Not to mention embarrassing situations where someone might step out to use the toilet while still on a video call for all to see. When not in use, cover your webcam. Many companies offer webcam covers, or you could just use a piece of tape!
12. Never Assume You’re Not A Target
Many people believe they’re not interesting enough or don’t have enough money to be a target for hackers. Sadly, cybercriminals often target regular users and everyday people simply because they are easier to steal from and less likely to have security measures in place. Always assume you could be a target. The truth is that the hackers are expanding their reach every day and at some point, you or your company will be targeted. It is genuinely not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’. So, if you get a request that sounds urgent, weird, or asks you to do something that potentially could lead to loss of money or company data, please stop, think, and ask someone else for a second opinion. If you don’t have some trusted Spider-Man next to you then you are more than welcome to DM me and I will do my best to help – Contact us by clicking here.
Remember, the digital world can seem intimidating, especially with the myriad of potential threats lurking around. However, with a little knowledge, some good habits, and a dash of caution, you can navigate it safely and smoothly. I hope these tips will help you have a happier, safer digital journey. Always remember that on the other side of that screen, it’s not just circuits and codes, but real people like me. So, let’s take care of each other and our digital selves. Happy computing!
I’ve spent more than 20 years gaining the knowledge and expertise to help YOU and make your life easier. As well as sharing what I have learned through this blog, I have assembled a friendly team of experts for all your IT support needs.
If you need a helping hand and the benefit of our expert knowledge, simply send us a message at [email protected] or call us on 0800 389 6798 so we can advise you with the issues you are facing. We specialise in IT support services for businesses of all kinds.
I’ll be back with a new blog very soon. In the meantime, if you need IT support of any kind, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. At Operum.Tech, we can help with everything from cyber security, cloud computer, and IT compliance to IT infrastructure support, cyber essentials, and more. We love working with our IT support clients and using our IT knowledge and experience to make their lives easier. We take care of the tech stuff so you can focus on what you do best. You can contact us here: Contact Us – Operum.
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