Most reasonable people know they are not perfect, and even accept that they don’t need to be, but it doesn’t stop us from continually striving to improve. We use technology to do things faster, longer, further, and any number of other “-ers” you can think of, typically in the name of being better. The fundamental reason technology exists is to provide tools that extend our abilities beyond that of which we are humanly capable. Technology is a primal multiplier of our own capabilities, good and bad, and amplifying the latter can lead to disastrous outcomes.
Here comes the technology soapbox!
I work with a lot of people, and as you might imagine, none of us are perfect. I see these bad technology practices often enough to know that every one of us is probably guilty of at least one or more of these bad habits, some of which are nasty enough that not breaking them could have serious consequences.
- Not securing mobile devices and laptops with encryption and passwords or pins. Unless your device is a pure entertainment device with zero sensitive information, you should be locking your devices. It’s inconvenient, but so is having your private info leaked onto the internet. Don’t think your info is worth leaking? How about your client’s email correspondence or that private conversation with your family and friends? You may think you have nothing to hide, but the people you interact with on your device also have a say in that privacy decision.
- Using insecure passwords for important accounts. You know this is bad, I don’t even have to explain why. And yet I remind people everyday the importance of using strong, unique passwords that are frequently changed. Breaking this bad habit is hard, but it’s just one of those things we have to do.
- Poor file organization. Very few of us fall into the minority of computer users who stick with a system of organizing all of their documents. A large number of us fall into the category of using our Desktop as a catch-all, and since it can’t overflow onto the floor like real paper, it can get really bad without warning. File that stuff away so you can find it later when you or someone else needs it.
- Poor email management. The email monster will eventually overwhelm even the most experienced technology veteran. Email has been around a long time: we’ve had decades to build up many bad habits in this category, but the number one is an out-of-control “Unread Count.” If you can no longer use that number as a gauge of what needs to be done, you are losing out on a valuable tool.
- Read (and think) before clicking. Most of us have been using computers long enough now that it’s a reflex to click buttons, especially if they say “OK” or “Continue”, and often that leads to disaster. When a dialog pops up or a strange email link presents itself, stop, read, and consider your next action. A minute of critical thinking can make the difference between “delete” and “malware infection.”
- Infrequent or no data backups. This one still surprises me. Very smart people are still making poor choices in regards to securing their data. Backup services are so easy and inexpensive there is literally no excuse to not back up your data.
- Relying on technology to be infallible. Fortunately, this seems to be a habit that is slowly being hammered out of everyone, if only through the constant media exposure of all the data breaches and hacks. Accepting that technology can fail isn’t admitting defeat. Instead it’s a core belief that leads to using it more effectively – understanding and accounting for limitations of a system is the the “yin” to technology’s “yang”.
Image courtesy of atibodyphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net