When a security breach occurs and sensitive company information falls into the wrong hands, tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage can happen in a matter of minutes; the results are devastating and take months to clean up. Here are a few easy steps you can take to help protect yourself, your work and your computer.
- Lock your computer if you need to leave it unattended, even for a short amount of time. A valuable Windows shortcut to know: Use Windows Key + L to lock your computer and hide all your open programs without closing them. When you come back, simply type in your password and you can quickly pick up where you left off. Not only does this protect potentially sensitive data from prying eyes or nosey coworkers, but it will help safeguard you from office hijinks; say, when your coworker decides to flip your desktop upside down.
- Use strong passwords on every service that allows a password, and change your passwords often! Don’t use the same password twice. If you have trouble remembering different passwords, try a program like 1Password or RoboForm to securely store all your passwords.
- Have an external firewall in place. Your PC is the last line of defense, so protective measures should be in place before malicious software gets to your PC. This is something your IT department will have to set up for you, so if you aren’t sure whether or not it’s there, just ask. Managed IT service providers can handle this for you as well, which is an especially good option if you don’t have an IT consultant on hand all the time.
- Have a plan in place to quickly wipe a lost or stolen mobile device. The App Store and Google Play each offer a variety of apps that can remotely wipe and lock a mobile device in order to prevent a security breach if the device ever falls into the wrong hands.
- Make backups of your important files. These backups should be stored outside your computer. An external hard drive that sits on your desk provides some protection, but your best bet is an automatic, recurring scheduled backup to a remote location. Companies offering cloud services can set this up for you.
- Use a surge protector or a line conditioner along with a battery backup to help keep your data safe from loss due to a damaged PC. Power strips don’t provide any protection against power surges and outages, and over time the irregular current that comes through a wall socket can cause damage to your electronic equipment.
- Keep browsers, antivirus and malware protection, and other software up-to-date. Updates and patches to software often include fixes for security vulnerabilities and outdated browsers and antivirus software can make your PC an easy target.