Computer Safety in the WorkplaceArticle Posted by Expert Author: Nancy Ruskus on 07/10/2013
A common misconception by many using computers in their place of work is that there is nothing they need to do in order to be more secure. This misconception most often occurs because people assume that if their office has an IT department, that any threats to any computers in the network are already being prevented. But the truth is that there are many ways for office computer security to be breached, and they may have nothing to do with the IT department at your office location.
One example includes email. Even though your office's IT department may have email scanners galore, viruses can still get through. The main thing to understand is that no anti-virus method is going to be 100% successful. And so, it becomes up to the individual user to know the signs to look for, as well as the appropriate steps to take when a suspicious email has been received.
If you receive an email with an attachment that you were not expecting, do not open it under any circumstances. Even if someone you do know has sent you the message, the message could still have become infected without the sender's knowledge. Similarly, the sender's computer may have been being used by another party with the sender's permission. Speaking with the sender to ensure what was sent is the best way to know whether an attachment is legitimate.
Do you know how many people are authorized to use your particular computer? If not, this may be something to take a second look at, because the more who are authorized, the more likely a breach may be to occur. If there are a large number of people listed as being authorized, perhaps looking at the permissions each person has may help to limit the risk.
In limiting what others are able to do while at your workstation, you can greatly minimize the risk of infected emails being sent, as well as reduce the chance that suspicious files will be downloaded while you aren't there to see what is going on. It may have been awhile since the IT department has set permissions for particular workstations. If no permissions have ever been set, then it may be time to hand this task over to the IT department.
Limiting the use of external media like CDs and flash drives at a workstation can also contribute to the optimal safety of your workplace's network. It is not uncommon for a company to order computers that don't have a slot for a DVD burner or USB port for flash drives, as this prevents workers from saving company data on this external media.
A good idea may be to have computers with such abilities, but in a secure area such as the IT department itself, where the use of the media can be monitored. Some experts say that there should be no reason for those who are considered to be regular employees to have burners or USB ports on the computers they use while at work.
Privacy vs. Security
Some employees may wonder about their right to privacy in this kind of situation. And while it's true that some security measures will raise eyebrows among employees, recent mandates have revealed that where the protection of a company is concerned, employers are well within their rights to monitor the actions of their employees.
The best way to avoid conflict between employer and employee over safety measures is to ensure that every employee is aware not only that security measures are in place, but what kind of measures are being employed. In addition, employees must be given information packets which contain all of these policies and procedures, in addition to guidelines for the safe use of their work computer.
Clear communication about the measures put in place by a company to protect both itself and its employees is the best way to ensure there are no misunderstandings about the reasons for security measures or the implications of not adhering to the guidelines given.
Safeguarding Digital Files
The best laid plans can go up in smoke if you have some type of problem that wipes out your digital files. Companies should provide a comprehensive way for employees to regularly backup computer files. Look for ways to streamline the process by enabling scheduled backups, either incrementally, with selective backups or even periodic full backups of your entire system.
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