If you walk away from your desk, even for a brief moment, do you lock your computer? You may not think it’s a big deal, but leaving your computer unlocked is a lot like leaving your car running with the doors unlocked. Anyone could sit at your computer and gain access to your private information.
The Serious Consequences
In the past two years, more than 250 million confidential business records were reported lost or stolen and those data losses did not all originate from external threats. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, employees engage in behaviors that heighten the risk of data loss – and leaving your computer unlocked is one of them. How could such a common practice be so dangerous? Let’s take a look at a few numbers:
- At least one in three employees said they leave their computers logged on and unlocked when away from their desk, such as when they go to lunch or go home for the evening.
- One in five employees store system login information and passwords on their computer or write them down and leave them on their desk, in unlocked cabinets, or pasted on their computers.
- Statistics show more than 75 percent of employees do not use a privacy guard when working remotely in a public place
In short, you might be surprised at just how much you have on your computer that’s worth stealing.
Opportunity Makes the Thief
Fellowes’ Workplace Data Security found that 81 percent of office employees have access to documents containing sensitive workplace information – and leaving your computer unlocked is a great way to expand who has access to this information. Most employees aren’t would-be data thieves, but if you have a would-be thief in your midst, leaving a computer unlocked could allow him or her to access everything from financials to security codes, intellectual property, passwords or worse. And depending on what they steal, you could be looking at fines, lost funds, or a damaged reputation.
If it is an employee that is leaving the company, however, they might take things a step further and sell your client list to competitors or use it themselves if they are recruited by a competitor.
How Can This be Avoided?
Our advice is to get into the habit of locking your computer, mobile phone or any device that has critical business data on it, whenever you leave. Locking your computer while you are away will help protect confidential documents, client information, financial statements and employee information just to name a few. Not locking your computer is like surrendering access of your files, whether personal, confidential or public to unauthorized persons. Next time you leave your computer unlocked just remember, anyone can gain access to your computer and modify, remove or even share data from your computer.
Most operating systems allow you to establish a setting that will automatically lock your desktop after the computer is inactive for a certain amount of time. Take advantage of this setting to ensure your computer will lock even if you forget.
Check out our blog post for more information on how to keep employees safe in the workplace.