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Information Security Mistakes Made by Employees In An Organization

written by: Radell Hunter•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 5/27/2010

You would never dream of leaving the company office door unlocked when you left at night, would you? That would be an information security mistake. But that's what you are doing when you use your office computer to shop online, surf the web for personal reasons, and check personal emails on the job.

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    Information Security: Your Responsibility Too

    Your employer expects you to use company computer property with the same care for security as they would if they issued you a key to the front door of the office building. But employees in some organizations put their company's reputation and data at risk, instead. There are a number of ways in which this can happen, and it is often never intentional. But, nonetheless, it can cost the company money and customers. And it can cause that employee to risk their job as well. That's why it pays to know how to "lock up" at the office in more ways than one.

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    Unauthorized Web Use

    Odds are that you work for an organization that stipulates you are not to use the computer for personal website searching or email activity. And you definitely aren't supposed to be watching those YouTube videos your friend called you about last night either. But some employees do these things anyway. And when they engage in unauthorized web use, they are basically doing the same thing their child might do when home alone: open a door to a stranger. And as we know, opening the door to a stranger can be a very dangerous thing in this day and time, regardless of your age.

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    Making Personal Purchase Online at Work

    One stranger that could be waiting on the other side of your company computer screen is a script. Scripts are basically a series of commands or mini programs, if you will. And these "scripts" are exercised without your knowledge a lot of times when you make purchases online on your personal home computer. While some businesses uses scripts on their websites to monitor their customer's buying habits, there are others who use script programs for malicious purposes. And if you are using your company computer for unauthorized personal web shopping or surfing, you are opening the door for your company computer to become infected by a script. The script could then infect your company computer with a virus, lowering information security in your organization.

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    Sending or Forwarding Infected Word/Excel Documents

    Another nasty stranger you could encounter when using company computers to engage in personal website surfing and activity is a macro virus. If you pick up this nasty little fiend, you could potentially contaminate any number of Word or Excel documents on your computer. They can become infected by it through your personal activity online. As you use your company email system to send these documents as attachments, the macro virus can then infect all the people who open your document. But lest you think that is the only people who can be affected by a macro virus, let me tell you about the Melissa virus. This macro virus had the capability of sending itself to the first 50 people listed on the email accounts of infected computer users. They didn't even have to send or open an attachment! Once you got it, you "got it."