The top 10 things you can do to help yourself stay secure when using your computer

By following a few simple rules and keeping in mind some of these useful tips you can employ the common sense approach to IT security so that your tech works for you safely and securely.

Keep these top tips in mind when you work with technology in the workplace and in the home and you won’t go far wrong. Remember, as your IT department Start Technology is here to help and prevention is definitely better than cure so don’t hesitate to get in touch for advice or guidance if you feel security in your office is at risk. Call us on 01743 298611.


1) Never use an unprotected computer.
When you access sensitive information from a non-secure computer, like one in an Internet café or a shared machine at a library, you put the information you’re viewing at risk. Make sure your computer is running the latest approved security patches, up to date antivirus and a firewall. And, importantly, always work in user mode, not administrator mode, whenever possible. If in doubt, ask.


2) Don’t leave sensitive information lying around the office.
Don’t leave printouts containing private information, account names, passwords or similar, lying around. Lock them in a drawer or shred them completely. It’s very easy for a visitor to look down at your desk and see sensitive information. Always keep your desk tidy and documents locked away in a drawer or filing cabinet. It makes the office look better but, more importantly, it reduces the risk of information leaks.


3) Lock your computer and your mobile phone when not in use.
Always lock your computer and your mobile phone when you’re not using them. You work on important things, and you want to make sure they stay secure. Locking your phone and your computer keeps your data and your contacts safe from prying eyes. Simple, but it makes sense and only takes a second or two.


4) Don’t be tricked into giving away confidential information.
Don’t respond to emails or phone calls requesting confidential information—including employee information, financial data or bank details. It’s easy for an unauthorised person to call you and pretend to be an employee or one of your business partners or customers. Stay alert to avoid falling for this scam, and report any suspicious activity to Start Technology.


5) Stay alert and report suspicious activity.
Always report any suspicious activity to Start Technology. Part of everyone’s job is to collaborate in stopping cyber crime and to make sure your company’s data isn’t lost or stolen. Your job depends on keeping your information safe. In case something goes wrong, the faster Start Technology knows about it, the faster we can deal with it.


6) Don’t plug in personal devices without the OK from Start Technology.
Don’t plug in personal devices like USB flash drives or Phones without permission from Start Technology. These devices can be compromised with code waiting to launch as soon as you plug them into a computer. Talk to us about your devices and let us make the call.


7) Always use hard-to-guess passwords.
Don’t use obvious passwords, like “mypassword,” or obvious sequences on your keyboard, like “qwerty” and “12345.” It’s better to use complex passwords. Include different letter cases, numbers, and even punctuation, preferably at least 8 characters. Try to use different passwords for different websites and computers. So if one gets hacked, your other accounts are not compromised.


8) Be cautious of suspicious emails and links.
Don’t let curiosity get the best of you. Always delete suspicious emails and links. Even opening or viewing these emails and links can compromise your computer and create unwanted problems without your knowledge. Remember, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Even if the email purports to come from someone you know it is best to maintain a level of healthy scepticism if you are not expecting an email with an attachment. Call them and verify it actually did come from them.


9) Don’t install unauthorised software on your work computer.
Malicious applications often pose as legitimate programs, like games, tools or even antivirus software. They aim to fool you into infecting your computer or network. If you like an application and think it will be useful, contact Start Technology to look into it for you before installing.


10) Password-protect sensitive files and devices.
Remember to always use a password to protect any sensitive files on your computer, external hard drive, smartphone, etc. Losing an item like a phone, flash drive or laptop can happen to anyone. Protecting your devices with strong passwords means you make it much more difficult for someone to break in to the lost item and steal data. Some business-oriented operating systems e.g. the Pro or Enterprise editions of Windows 8.1, can employ full drive encryption to add another layer of security for critical business systems. Again, Start Technology can advise you on when this is appropriate to use and how to set it up.


If you would like advice on helping your company stay secure for IT threats please get in touch – 01743 298611