5 Things you should never do on a work computer

A close-up photo of someone working on a laptop and someone else pointing at the laptop screen.

Whether you work remotely or in an office, the line between personal and work tasks can become blurred when working on your company computer.

A survey of over 900 employees found that only 30% said they never used their work PC for personal activities. The other 70% admitted using their work computer for personal reasons.

The more you use your work computer for personal activities, the greater the likelihood of a security breach. To help you protect your company, we've compiled a list of five activities to avoid on your company-issued device.

WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of satisfied customers troubleshoot, repair, and improve computers, applications, IT systems, and office networks.

By reading this article, you will learn five activities to avoid on your work computer and why they matter.

5 Things you should never do on a work computer

It's easy to slip into using your work computer to accomplish personal tasks. At first, it might just be checking personal email during lunch breaks. But as the line continues to get crossed, it can end up with someone using their work computer just as much for personal reasons as work tasks.

Some of the non-work-related things that people do on a work computer include:

  • Reading and sending personal emails
  • Scanning news headlines
  • Shopping online
  • Online banking
  • Checking social media
  • Streaming music
  • Streaming videos/movies

It's a bad idea to mix work and personal, no matter how convenient using your work PC for a personal task during the day is. You can get reprimanded, cause a data breach at your company, or possibly lose your job.

Here are several things you should never do on your work PC.

1. Never save your personal passwords in the browser

Many people manage their passwords by allowing their browsers to save and auto-fill them. This can be convenient, but it's not very secure should you lose access to that PC.

When your computer isn't yours, it can be taken away at any time for several reasons. For example, it might be removed for an upgrade, repair, or during an unexpected termination.

If someone else accesses that device and you never signed out of the browser, they can leverage your passwords to access your cloud accounts.

In addition, not all older PCs are stored in a storeroom somewhere or destroyed. Some companies will donate them to worthy causes, which could leave your passwords in the hands of a stranger if the PC hasn't been wiped properly.

2. Never store personal data on a work device

It's easy to get in the habit of storing personal data on your work computer. But this bad habit leaves you wide open to a couple of significant problems:

  • Loss of your files: If you lose access to the PC for any reason, your files can be lost forever
  • Your personal files may be company-accessible: Many companies have backups of employee devices to protect against data loss. If your personal files are captured in the company backup process, they are now potentially accessible to all employees.

3. Never visit suspicious websites

You should assume that any activity you are doing on a work device is monitored and accessible by your boss.

In addition, companies often have cybersecurity measures designed to protect against phishing websites.

This same type of software can also send an alert should an employee be frequenting a suspicious website deemed dangerous to security (which many sketchy websites are).

You should never visit any website on your work computer that you wouldn't be comfortable visiting with your boss looking over your shoulder.

4. Never allow friends or family to use your work computer

Letting a friend or family member use your work computer can be tempting when you work remotely.

But allowing anyone else to use your work computer could constitute a compliance breach of data protection regulations your company must adhere to.

Just the fact that an unauthorized user could access your customers or other employees' data can mean a stiff penalty.

Additionally, a child or friend not well-versed in cybersecurity could end up visiting a phishing site and infecting your work device, infecting your company cloud storage, and leaving you responsible for a breach.

At least 20% of companies have experienced a data breach during the pandemic due to a remote worker.

5. Never turn off company-installed applications like backups and antivirus

If a backup kicks in and slows your PC down to a crawl, turning off the backup process can be tempting. But this can leave the data on your computer unprotected and unrecoverable in the case of a hard drive crash or ransomware infection.

Company-installed apps are there for a reason, usually for cybersecurity and business continuity. These should not be turned off unless you are given express permission by your supervisor or the company's IT team

Next steps for securely using your work computer

Device protection is crucial whether you're working remotely, worried about causing a data breach, or a business owner with multiple remote team members.

To better protect your device, company data, and both employee and client information, you should avoid using your company-issued device for personal tasks. In addition, you should not use your work computer to:

  1. Save your personal passwords in the browser.
  2. Store personal data.
  3. Visit suspicious websites.
  4. Allow friends or family to use it.
  5. Turn off company-installed applications.

These five actions can endanger your personal data and company data.

Talk to your IT provider or internal IT team about tools, policies, and procedures to help keep work devices secure.

For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients find technology solutions and strategies to build efficiency and productivity.

If you are looking for a new IT provider, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see how WEBIT can help.

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