You’d like to think of yourself as tech-savvy: You upgraded to the latest Web browser, started using CRM software in your business, and even added a new mail server running Microsoft Exchange. What could go wrong? Plenty. In fact, you might be making a classic tech blunder at this very moment…
1. Buying the wrong laptop
Don’t get sucked in by the low price of a new system. That shiny new Dell might not be all it is cracked up to be. Before you buy a new laptop, do some research on the latest Intel processor, graphics chipsets, and hard disk sizes. If a laptop has a 64GB SSD disk, that’s a sign it has not kept up with the field. Look for something more along the lines of 128GB SSD. And, look for brand new features like NFC (a chip used for making purchases), a gorilla glass display, and ruggedized components.
2. Using simple passwords
A recent survey called the Trustwave Global Security Report 2012 found that the most common password today is “password1”—basically, adding a one to the default. Using your birthday, the name of your kids, or a popular celeb might make it easy for you to remember the password, but it also makes it easier for hackers to take a wild guess. A better approach: Use a mix of numbers, caps, and letters.
3. Paying for data by the MB, not GB
Some cell phone plans charge you extra if you go over your data allotment. But there are two pricing plans. You will either pay a few cents for each MB or a flat rate for each GB. Make sure you go with the flat rate per GB. If you pay a few cents per MB, the costs add up quickly—to $100 or more in some cases. If you pay per GB the flat rate is usually just $10.
4. Trusting your anonymity
Guess what? You are being watched. When you visit a website, you are downloading dozens of cookies, some nefarious enough to track your browsing history. Unless you opt-out, Google is probably tracking your Web history as well. And, we all know the FBI probably has a way to track you on Twitter. The lesson here is that we are in an age where anonymity is almost impossible. One browser can help: Mozilla Firefox has a do not track feature, and so does the latest version of Internet Explorer.
5. Posting sensitive data to the cloud
In some industries, it is a federal violation to post data to the cloud. That should serve as a good warning. Even if you are not posting patient records or financial information, be careful with the cloud. Dropbox has become a popular collaboration and storage tool but it’s not appropriate for your business. A new service called Huddle, a similar file sync service that has more business features is a better option.
6. Revealing your location publicly
Managers like to share with others—being social is part of the culture. However, when you post on Twitter that you are leaving on a business trip, you are announcing to the world that you are not at the office—which means hackers and criminals might make your company a target. Worse, it tells your competitors what you are doing. Some services, like Google Maps, include a feature that can share your location with friends, which is fine, but also with everyone in the world, which is not a good idea.
7. Not using anti-virus software
It is a pain, I know: installing an anti-virus program, running the memory-hogging app in the background, and updating the signature files. But you know what’s worse? Actually getting a virus, and infecting not only your files but those of your co-workers. For anyone who has seen “Contagion,” just remember: Good protection can go a long way.
Tech review courtesy of John Brandon. Mr. Brandon is a tech contributor at Inc. magazine and Inc. Technology. Before starting his writing career, he led a design and writing team at a large consumer electronics retailer. You can follow his tweets at twitter.com/jmbrandonbb. He lives outside of Minneapolis.