It's the little things that can make a big difference to you and your cyber security. Two of those little things are locking your computer when you leave it and remembering to update your computer if a new one is available. We're going to take you through some advice on how to remember to update and lock your computer, and why it's so important to remember.
You are responsible for your cyber security
You might be thinking that the IT department is responsible for your company's cybersecurity, including your cybersecurity. But it actually starts with your online behaviour and how you act when you receive suspicious emails or ads. You have access to your company's data, which makes you as important a part of cybersecurity as anti-virus programs and other types of precautionary measures.
The IT department handles the heavy lifting when it comes to cybersecurity if should you be struck by an attack - you need to make sure you follow the right cybersecurity precautions and implement them as habits in your daily life. Some of those habits include locking your computer when you leave, and updating your computer when it needs to be updated.
When you lock your computer, you lock the hacker out
You might think it doesn't matter if you leave your computer open and unlocked or not - you trust your colleagues. But it's not your colleagues who are tempted by an unlocked computer; it's the hackers. You can compare your unlocked computer to an unlocked house with an "open door" sign - thieves are free to walk in and steal your stuff.
The hacker will steal data from your computer and install malware (malicious software) onto it, so that they have access to your documents and personal data until you get anti-virus installed and your computer cleaned - and it can take a while to realise that there are external actors accessing your computer.
In addition to your own data, hackers can also access your company's data if you leave your computer unlocked at work; especially if you are in an open office environment. Workplaces are where hackers find holes in the cybersecurity, because not many people remember to lock and update their computers.
Why should you lock your computer?
There are several reasons why it's a good idea to lock your computer when you leave it. Some of them are that:
- You have private documents and personal data on your computer, and no one should see them but you.
- You could lose data and documents if a colleague accidentally presses the wrong button when you're away.
- You have confidential emails that only concern you, so no one else should be able to access them - not hackers, nor colleagues who can look on a switched-on screen.
- You avoid people accessing and editing documents, whether they are personal, confidential or public - no one should edit your documents but you.
Remembering to lock your computer also means you don't waste all the work your company puts into cyber security and keeping employees and their data safe. That's why you should get into the habit of locking your computer every time you get up from your chair and leave your desk.
And if you don't know the shortcut to locking your computer, we'll give it here:
- On Mac it's "control+command+Q"
- On PC it's "the Windows symbol+L"
Remember to update your computer
Another important precaution you need to take into account is to update your computer when you see that there is an update ready to be installed. Updates come because there are hackers on both sides of the law, so to speak, trying to infiltrate operating systems. If they find a security hole, it is registered by the software operators, who then start working on patching the security holes they have found.
This is also called patching, because they patch any holes that might've occured in the software. If software becomes unstable or unreliable, hackers can more easily get through and infect your computer with viruses and malware.
Here are 5 reasons to remember to update your computer:
- It patches security holes that may be in the software
- There may be new and improved features in the software
- Performance is improved
- You ensure compatibility with the latest software and features
- You protect your data with the latest update
If you don't update your computer when you see that a new update is available, you give the hacker more time to get through the security holes that have appeared. So you're putting your own personal data at risk, as well as your company's data on your work computer - updates are important to remember at home and at work.
Software updates are a layer of cyber security protection
It is you who must remember to maintain this protective layer between your data and hackers. Technology changes all the time, so new holes in the software may need patching - getting it up to date is also good for your computer's efficiency. Updates fix bugs, which are errors in systems, and correct them.
So if you're experiencing bugs in your software, you should be on the lookout for new updates, but also pay attention to how your computer is performing - this could also be an indication that the hacker has got through a security hole and installed some kind of malware on your computer.
Of course, this can be avoided by locking your computer when you leave it, while remembering to update it whenever possible - with your new security habits, you are well on your way to a safer experience on your computer.
Caroline is a copywriter here at Moxso beside her education. She is doing her Master's in English and specializes in translation and the psychology of language. Both fields deal with communication between people and how to create a common understanding - these elements are incorporated into the copywriting work she does here at Moxso.