Shake bad IT habits or put your business security at risk

Sometimes the world presents us with wonderful ironies that can only possibly be put in place to intercept and head off sticky situations. One of those magical ironies, or divine interventions is happening right now in fact, as the author of this article types away, simultaneously sipping a cup of peppermint tea, having not pressed File+Save for at least an hour. The irony here being that said article is being written to warn you small business owners against the dangers and risks attached to bad office IT habits.

Had the author been practicing excellent office IT habits, she might have left the cup of tea until after the article was written to avoid the warning signs of a dreaded spillage. In the midst of typing this piece, the cup of tea could potentially end up on its head, drowning the keyboard and frazzling important hardware in the process. Had she been a model office worker, she may have also saved her work and protected the desktop with a password before slipping away to make the cup of tea in question to avoid any unnecessary loss of work or security infringements. However, our little rule-breaking renegade is not alone as a new study of 500 SME employees’ shows and it turns out finance workers are the worst offenders.

“Bad habits are like a comfortable bed – easy to get into, hard to get out of”

The research, which encompassed small and medium-sized enterprises from across the country was carried out by leading independent digital print and download solutions supplier, Altodigital. The findings proved that us office workers have picked up some seriously sloppy habits along the way and its time we pulled our socks up before UK businesses are put at any more risk!

Eating at computers (29%), spilling drinks and using personal instead of company email addresses (20%) were up there with the worst offences, along with the 16% who are costing their businesses a small fortune with unnecessary colour printing. Using personal Dropbox accounts, failing to sign emails off with a signature and turning computers off without shutting down properly were also high on the list of bad habits having a negative impact on SMEs.

These mishaps are minor issues that deserve a slap on the wrist, sure, but small businesses need to be more concerned about the bad habits that threaten the safety of their confidential documents and intellectual property. One in ten of those surveyed admitted that they don’t take any measures towards protecting their confidential files and 9% confessed that they don’t safeguard their vulnerable IT systems with virus software or security passwords.

One of the biggest security no-no’s is saving files to a desktop rather than a secure server and a substantial 20% of the employees questioned were found to be guilty of this. Lax approaches to IT like this could seriously risk the safety of important business information but can be easily reversed with the right level of awareness.

Group sales director at Altodigital, Tony Burnett, said:

“Even though employees often know what they’re doing is bad practice, many think taking shortcuts will save them time and make their jobs easier.

“However, these habits all have the potential to impact on an organisation; from the security risks from not using virus software and passwords to the way the organisation is perceived by its customer – using a personal email address for instance, will not project a professional image.

“We’d recommend that businesses look to address these bad habits with a view to avoiding unnecessary issues and costs which they have the potential to cause.”

“We become what we repeatedly do” – time for change!

Okay, so we’re firm believers in the idea that you should practice what you preach so we’ve pulled together a handful of useful tips to help you brush up on your bad IT habits. Print them off and pin them to your office noticeboard, set a reminder on your phone, do whatever it takes to help you reset your working model and implement good habits in place of your vices.

Clear the desktop at the end of each day – Make sure any important documents are saved to a secure server instead and delete anything you no longer need to avoid any unnecessary storage.

Change passwords regularly – Change computer and log in passwords every 6 months to minimise the risk of hackers and any unwanted third-parties. Make sure you note these down somewhere secure as remembering lots of passwords can be tricky.

Take time away from your desk at lunch – With so much to do and such a fast-paced working lifestyle, it can be tempting to eat your lunch while you work. However, this can risk damaging devices and creating an unhygienic area for you to work in.

Keep your antivirus software up to date – Again, with so many things on your never-ending to-do list, updating antivirus software can be the last thing on your mind. However, this is an important step in ensuring your confidential records are safe. Take five minutes out of your day to drastically reduce risks to your precious business.



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