CEO Series: If you’re going to work here, you’d better lock your computer

I’m on the train to Gothenburg. There’s a man sitting next to me, hard at work on his computer. All of a sudden he does something that happens far too often.

The man goes to the restaurant to buy a coffee, leaving the computer unattended and open in the logged-in mode. In today’s data breach world, he is jeopardizing the entire company’s security. I can’t imagine that he left his home this morning with the door open, and the keys in the lock.

I wondered how much IT security thinking there is in the man’s workplace. What does their security training and workplace culture look like?

At Specops, we would never leave a computer unlocked, even when we’re in the office. Not because we are a security-oriented company or because we have a comprehensive policy detailing proper security behavior – although we are and we do. Instead, we use humor as a tool to educate and remind each other to make security a fundamental part of the workplace culture.

If you leave your computer unlocked and unattended, it is acceptable to make fun of it – within moderation. It can be anything from changing screensavers, to sending a funny mail from your computer to colleagues. When you get back to the computer, you’ll have a friendly reminder about corporate security. You’ll be glad it happened among colleagues, and not on a train.

Security thinking is not a one-off effort, it is continuous work every day. The number of data breaches is increasing as I wrote about in previous posts. Yes, I know many companies have security policies, detailing how employees should think and act. But how many of those documents are forgotten? What can you do about your job to create a workplace culture where security is top of mind? At Specops, we take responsibility for our security culture. With humor as our tool, we have succeeded in reminding each other that if you work here, remember to lock your computer!

(Last updated on October 30, 2023)

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