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Five common mistakes to avoid on your work computer – and why they're so bad


You might use a computer at work. If you're lucky, you might even have a tablet, or smartphone too.

If you do have these devices, it's tempting to treat them as your own – the line between work and play becomes blurred. Do you use your company email address to arrange Prosecco Fridays with the girls?

Well, be careful. Software technology company Check Point conducted a survey of more than 700 IT professionals, and the results revealed that a number of breaches were down to employee recklessness.

Spilling coffee on your computer is also bad

Of course most – if not all – of us know not to download or view anything NSFW on our workplace laptop. Please.

But it's about more than simple naughtiness – there are five absolute things to remember when using your company computer. Worth thinking about to keep both you and your boss happy.

1. Don't save personal passwords or personal data at work

We use our work computers a lot of the time (probably more than eight hours a day). We might even take them home and treat them as our main machine.

But it's probably against company policy to store such information. If hackers find out your personal details, they might use them against you, and it might make it easier for them to access your workplace material. Plus, your work probably withholds the right to view anything stored on its servers – so, you know.

2. Don't use work chats to make precarious jokes

This man just sent his work colleague nudes, which is an error (Photo: Make It Cheaper)

You might use Google Hangouts, Slack, or other software to chat to colleagues. Fine. It's good to be social, and easier to communicate.

But your work will probably be able to see everything you say. So those private conversations might land you in a bit of bother.

3. Don't use public WiFi if you're working on important work stuff

This is probably the most obvious one. You shouldn't give hackers the opportunity to grab sensitive documents and material – or potentially damaging info, which is entirely possible if you use public internet connections.

“Don’t access your email, online bank or credit card accounts when on public Wi-Fi,” says fraud expert Frank Abagnale. “This is because con artists may set up fake networks that seem like the real thing but aren’t (this is known as the “evil twin” scam).”

4. Don't allow friends or non-IT personnel to access your computer remotely

A lot of people use their work computer as their main device (Photo: This image is subject to copyright.)

We all have IT issues. They mean the IT department might ask to access your laptop or desktop computer remotely. Maybe your office is in Hull and theirs is in Swindon.

But it's a bad move to allow anyone else to do this. It's common sense, really. Fine, you might trust them, but it's still bad practice to let Gary from HR to use your device, as something might go wrong, and you'll be to blame.

5. Don't do any 'extra work' on your workplace machine

You might have a second, even third job. But company time is company time. Your employee might record what you do, or at least monitor your movements.

If your boss sees your using your salaried time to work on other things, it's not going to look good. Your data might be compromised.

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