3 Ways You Should Never Use Your Computer at Work

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Some of you may remember the days when computers were in only in a few select homes. Only the wealthy could afford them, and functionality was limited to programming and basics, like data entry. There were certainly no touchscreens or anything like that.

As computers gained more power, speed, and features, we as a society also came to rely on them more. They have become a part of our daily lives, so much so that we can’t really go anywhere without interacting with one in some capacity. Whether we’re ordering food, checking bags at the airport, or in the office, odds are we’ll encounter a computer or computing device.

Our interaction with these devices has become so automatic, so instinctive, that one would think an obsession with technology was engrained into our DNA.

According to U.S. Census data, “In 2013, 83.8 percent of U.S. households reported computer ownership, with 78.5 percent of all households having a desktop or laptop computer, and 63.6 percent having a handheld computer.”

At the workplace, computer usage is even higher. As early as 2003, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the majority of us (more than 55%) were using computers in the workplace. Today, almost all of us rely on a computer at work in some capacity.

There are some rules that we should follow when using technology in the workplace (aside from the obvious ones like staying off pornographic sites). We’ve created a list of some of the things you shouldn’t do on your work computer.

The reason you should shy away from these things goes far beyond making your employer upset with you; you should refrain from performing these tasks on your work devices for your own personal security.

1. Banking

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Computer security has become a major concern as the separation between our personal lives and technology fades. Most of us are afraid enough of hackers and viruses to take basic precautions: We refrain from opening suspicious emails or files and protect ourselves with antivirus and anti-malware software. But most of us also know that it’s pretty unlikely for a hacker to waste his or her time on a single, regular individual. They have bigger fish to fry — like our employers, for instance.

2011 survey by Ponemon Research on behalf of Juniper Networks found that a shocking 90% of business organizations said that their computer systems had been breached by hackers at least once within the past 12 months.

When you bank at work, you may just be upping your odds of having your information breached. Even with all its IT security staff, your employer, a bigger target, is more inclined to have its security compromised than you are at home.

2. Paying bills and making other bank transactions

As with banking, the same idea applies with paying bills online. When you enter your bank account routing and checking number or your debit card information into the computer, this renders it possible for the information to enter the pool of valuable information that hackers look for when they go after organizations.

3. Medical or private inquiries

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Is your employer tracking your keystrokes? According to the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology:

“CyberPatrol,” “SniperSpy,” and “IamBigbrother” are the names of keyloggers that might be installed on your office computer. These easy to use and inexpensive hardware or software devices record keystrokes and allow a monitor to access email, and other password-protected accounts of an unsuspecting typist. Employers are using keyloggers more often in the workplace to oversee employees without their knowledge. … Although keyloggers facilitate a major invasion of privacy, they are legal in many jurisdictions. 

If you are writing inquiries in your personal email at work about your personal life, dating, medical problems, or anything you wouldn’t want your employer to know, you may want to rethink this activity. Your employer could be watching your every word.

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