Someone in the office just bought a new laptop. Awesome! Now they want to use it at the office. Not so awesome! For anyone who runs a company, a laptop is a conduit for viruses and spyware. Once someone starts processing data you have to start thinking about who can steal that data, where they store it, how they archive it, and how much value it has to the firm. You can help. Just forward these security "gotchas" to anyone who needs to avoid common mistakes with a new computer. It could save you from a major catastrophe.

1. Surfing to oddball sites. Guess what? That seemingly innocuous music download site also happens to house some serious spyware. It can compromise your bank accounts or worse. Best to stick to known sites or search Google first--they list more reputable sites first.

2. Using a suspicious thumbdrive. Hey, we all need a place to store our Word documents. In the office, you might find a random thumbdrive laying around. Don't use it. If you don't know the exact origins of the drive or if it isn't brand new, it could have a virus on it.

3. Agreeing to install a virus checker. Wait, how did that Web site know you even need a virus checker? In most cases, a prompt to install one is actually a prompt to install a virus or spyware.

4. Thinking disaster recovery is only about back-ups. It's not. If your fancy new laptop is stolen, you need a way to get the data, apps, settings, and even the business process back.

5. Connecting to an unsecure Wi-Fi signal. If the network is open it must be legit, right? Not so fast. Open networks are the ones to be suspicious about, especially at an airport or hotel. If you can connect easily without typing in a password or at least agreeing to terms, it might be a trap to steal data.

6. Leaving your webcam active. It's a good idea to check your webcam and know which lights mean it is active. Hackers know how to tap into the cam and, at work, could even record a meeting in the background. Yes, a piece of tape won't help (it can still record audio). Best to learn how to disable it.

7. Using a simple login password. It's all too common, because new computer users often forget their password. If you can remember the password, it's too easy to hack--write it down instead. Better yet, use a password manager.

8. Opening attachments from unknown senders. It's human nature to be curious, and even seasoned vets sometimes make the mistake of opening an attachment. If you don't know the sender, there's a good chance that prize certificate is actually a virus.

9. Assuming your drive will never crash. There are two kinds of computer users--those who have lost files and those who will eventually lose files. Make back-ups often. It's something to "take personally" as part of your job using a computer at work.

10. Not making multiple back-ups. Speaking of archiving files, another common mistake is to make one back-up occasionally. Life is easier that way, right? Not really. If those accounting files are important, make sure you make a back-up often and to a few different formats like thumbdrive and the cloud.

Published on: Aug 29, 2014
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