Remind your employees that office computers are not for personal information!

Remind your employees that office computers are not for personal information!

It’s an employee’s first day on the job, and you’ve given them a fantastic new PC or laptop that will help them work at their best. However, what your employee does with it from then on can potentially cost you big time in productivity, data loss, or even a network-wide cyber attack.

Everyone from front-office workers to company executives must remember that their PCs are not private and that this remarkable piece of hardware may actually be spying on them. Employee monitoring is a fact of life in modern offices, and the reasons why businesses are doing so are compelling.

According to an American Management Association (AMA) survey, about 80% of big companies keep tabs on their employees and monitor how often they use email and the internet. This is a far cry from the 1997 figure where only 35% of employers monitored their staff. AMA said that 76% of companies monitor websites visited, 50% look at computer files, and 55% review emails.

One of the top reasons why there’s been such an increase in monitoring of this kind is to improve employee productivity. Knowing how workers use their devices (and time) can identify problems before they get out of hand. Often times, just informing your staff that this monitoring is happening is enough to minimize inappropriate use.

A more compelling and humane reason is to avoid expensive security breaches. A Check Point Software Technologies survey of 700 IT personnel showed that the #1 reason breaches are caused is by unknowing employees using company resources.

What to tell employees about security

Here are some things you can do to protect the security of your business documents as well as your employees’ identities:

1. Never save personal passwords to an office PC

Sometimes employees forget that they don’t own the devices a company provides and log into personal accounts using office PCs or smartphones. However, this information is best kept private for many reasons.

Keyloggers and network analyzers can monitor private information. In fact, we recommend that organizations have a clause in their computer, email, and internet use policy that reminds employees that everything they do on their PC can be retrieved, for business continuity purposes.

2. Never store personal data

It may be convenient to have a personal folder on your office desktop for photos of your kids, wife, pets, or your recent family vacation. You might even keep your personal videos or receipts there, but this can be risky.

Again, it’s in everyone’s best interest to avoid these situations since small-business computers are some of the most targeted devices in the United States. The less information that a computer stores locally, the less vulnerable it will be.

3. Don’t check personal email

A whopping 92% of all malware attacks are hidden in email messages. Business owners must go to great lengths to protect company accounts, but what can you do if employees are checking personal, unprotected inboxes at work?

Solutions like capSecure can manage antivirus software and prevent people from clicking on malicious links while connected to the office internet, but ultimately, personal accounts are treacherous.

4. Never log into financial accounts

Think of each account a computer has access to as a digital doorway. The more accounts a computer is logged into, the more doorways hackers can choose from when attacking your business. And if we’re sticking with the analogy, banking-related accounts are like doors with dollar signs painted all over them. Criminals like to follow those doorways the most.

5. Don’t use a company computer for side gigs

It’s common for employees to take on freelance work to make some money on the side. This should be expressly forbidden since hackers may target the apps and files used for freelance work and stumble upon sensitive information from the employee’s full-time job.

Cloud security and virtual private network tools will keep employees safe when connecting to company documents outside of the office, but they offer less protection when users venture outside of predetermined boundaries.

Make your office workstation impervious to the machinations of hackers with the help of Capstone IT. We are a reliable managed IT services provider that protects businesses of all sizes in the Rochester and Buffalo areas. Consult us today for more information!

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