What not to do on your work computer in South Africa

 ·30 Dec 2023

More than 70% of employees use their company computers for non-work related activities, but there are several cybersecurity concerns.

Although some employers may ignore your browsing habits, Anna Collard, SVP of Content Strategy at KnowBe4 AFRICA, said that employees should reconsider their activities on their work PC or laptop.

To ensure the security of your work environment and protect sensitive information, Collard provided five things that South Africans should not do on their computer:

Store personal files

Experts said that storing files on a company computer is a terrible idea. If a laptop gets infected, the IT department may simply wipe all the files.

In addition, personal files might be visible across the whole company.

“Avoid storing personal files and photos on your computer. Do not use company storage data for your personal stuff,” said Collard.

Save passwords 

Using a browser to save and auto-fill passwords is also not recommended.

“Rather make use of a password manager if your organisation has one,” she said.

If there are concerns over the safety of a password manager, one could “salt” their passwords in there, meaning that they leave out or add characters and manually insert them.

“That way, you protect yourself should someone hack the password manager,” she added.

If that cannot be done, one can write down their passwords and store them on your browser or some other file on your company computer.

“The likelihood of cyber-criminals stealing my little black book is virtually zero, whereas the first place hackers would look for passwords is on my browser settings.”

If another person signs into your accounts using these passwords, the company’s data could be at risk.

Stream films from dodgy websites

Although the work-life balance can be blurry, employees should not watch movies from torrent sites.

“However, there are many dangers to watching films from illegal sites. Torrent sites, which are peer-to-peer networks where people share movies, can introduce malicious software onto your work computer,” she warns.

If employees want to watch movies, Netflix, Showmax, and other large streaming sites are better.

“That way, you won’t be introducing malware to your computer or bringing in vulnerabilities which malicious actors can exploit.”

Perform sensitive tasks on public Wi-Fi

Connection to a public Wi-Fi network can be a problem, especially for those doing something sensitive like online banking,g

“Wi-Fi snooping and sniffing is exactly what it sounds like. Cybercriminals can buy special software kits and even devices to help assist them with eavesdropping on Wi-Fi signals or pretending to be a hotspot that you connect to.”

“If you are thinking of paying bills or making purchases, it might be better to hold off until you are on a more secure network,” says Collard.

Mobile hotspots or using a VPN can also be good security measures if you need to work in public.

Avoid updates

Nobody likes to turn their computer off and on again for security measures, but there are severe dangers if these are ignored.

“Whether you are using a PC or a MacBook, there will always be software updates that are being released. Do not ignore them because they help to patch up the vulnerabilities that hackers are looking to exploit,” she said.

“There’s a reason updates are there, so you need to install them without delay.”

It is also good to check what the company policy is.

“Some companies do not mind you checking social media, paying bills or shopping online on your work computer, as long as it is within reasonable limits and on a secure network. But remember that the device is an asset that does not belong to you, so don’t do anything on it that you would not want your boss to know about.”

Read: The danger of moonlighting and side-hustles in South Africa

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