Whether your team works remotely or in an office, the line between personal and work tasks can become blurred when working on a business computer. If they are in front of a monitor screen for most of the workday, it’s not unusual for them to push boundaries when using the company’s computer.
Chances are, most of your employees conduct personal tasks on a work computer. Perhaps they are checking personal email while on a lunch break, browsing their social media accounts, or reading the news. As personal and work lines continue to get crossed over time, you can end up with someone using their work computer just as much for personal reasons as work duties.
Whether you work remotely or in an office, the line between personal and work tasks can become blurred when working on your company computer. If you’re in front of a computer for most of your time during work, then it’s not unusual to get attached to your desktop PC.
Over time, this can lead to doing personal things on a work computer. At first, it might just be checking personal email while on a lunch break. 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.
Malwarebytes, a California-based cybersecurity company conducted a survey of over 900 computer users employed by businesses.
70% of employees admitted to using their work computer for various personal reasons.
It was discovered that only 30% never used their work PC for personal activities – or at least they said so. Admit it, you are doing it, too.
Non-work-related activities employees do on a work computer:
- Checking social media
- Using personal email accounts
- Reading news
- Using their banking and credit card accounts
- Listening to music
- Using video and movie streaming channels
Of course, it is convenient to use the computer during the day for various activities, however, it is a bad idea to mix work and personal tasks. If you or your employees cut into business use of computers by running personal errands online, a data breach at your company is a very real possibility.
You probably have the internet use policy at your office, but it is always a good idea to remind yourself and your staff about things they should never do on work PCs.
1. Saving personal passwords for the browser to auto-fill.
While saving passwords can be convenient, it’s not secure. When the computer you use belongs to the company, it can be taken offline for various reasons. Perhaps your IT department runs as an upgrade, repair, or your PC can experience an unexpected issue and needs to be shut down or terminated.
If someone else accesses the signed-in browser on your PC they can leverage your access to both, personal and online accounts. In addition, when your old PCs are retired and disposed of without properly scrubbing existing data, your passwords may end up in the hands of a stranger.
2. Storing personal data on a work computer
Personal data on a work computer is never a good idea. Your home PC may not have a lot of storage space, and taking advantage of office computers may be tempting. But this is a bad practice and leaves you wide open to a couple of major problems:
- Trojans and other malware: if you are using storage devices, such as thumb drives, across the home and work environments, you may accidentally introduce malicious software to your business network. Home computers are often not as well-protected as business devices, and you will be putting your business computer network and data at risk when cross-using computers.
- Exposure of your personal files: Many organizations run backups of business devices to protect against data loss. In some cases, employees may share the computer access. So, you’d rather not open a company-wide door to your personal photos or files via the backup process or let a co-worker see your stuff when they log in, avoid using your work computer as a personal storage device.
3. Surfing online
First of all, your work computer activities may be monitored and be accessible by your boss and your IT services provider, as part of cybersecurity measures. Tools such as DNS filtering is designed to protect against phishing websites, and your history may give you away. Not only it can be embarrassing to get caught using a computer in an authorized manner, but you can also compromise your computer by potentially visiting an unsecured website.
4. Letting family or friends use work computers
When you work remotely your work PCs may be more robust and better packed with company-provided software than a typical home computer. When your family members or friends ask to use that PC you may be inclined to let them. You must remember that the use of a work computer for personal reasons could constitute a compliance breach of data protection regulations that your company needs to adhere to, and may result in serious and often costly penalties. If your company does not have to comply with regulations, you may still be violating the acceptable use policies of your organization.
At least 20% of companies have experienced a data breach during the pandemic due to a remote worker.
Let’s also mention that someone not well-versed in cybersecurity could visit a malicious site or download an infected file and compromise your work device, potentially spreading infection throughout your company’s network or cloud storage, leaving you responsible for a breach.
5. Messing with business-required applications
So, you are working – remotely or from the office – and suddenly your backup process starts running and throws your PC down into a low gear, leaving you with zero speed. You need to get your work done and think about turning off the backup. Or perhaps they decide to install a program or run an application outside of the company’s processes or procedures. How do your colleagues and employees your business property? You or another employee can leave the data on your computer unprotected and unrecoverable after a hard drive crash or ransomware infection.
Company-installed apps are installed for business use, cybersecurity, data recovery, and business continuity. These should not be turned off unless given express instructions or permission by your boss or the company’s authorized IT personnel.
Whether you’re working remotely and worried about a data loss, a breach, or you are a business owner with remote staff members and devices to secure, technology and data protection are important. Schedule a Cybersecurity Audit and a consultation today.