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Erik Nachbahr, CISSP

Erik Nachbahr, CISSP President

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6 Things You Should Know About Your PC

A PC is arguably the most important tool you use on a daily basis. It's used to communicate with customers and your colleagues. It's used to store documents and other important files. It's used to run business applications and to access the outside world via the Internet, as well as cloud-based applications.


Yet this ubiquitous workhorse is often taken for granted. We just assume it will always work the way it's supposed to, and when it doesn't? Chaos ensues!


At Helion, we handle hundreds of Help Desk calls from dealership employees every day. Many are PC related. We've noticed that a lot of people make the same mistakes in how they are using their PCs. These mistakes can cause a myriad of problems such as lost files, security breaches or slowing down the performance of the PC.


So we've compiled a list of tips that should help to keep your PC running efficiently and chaos at bay:


1) Don't store documents on your desktop


Do you save important documents on your desktop? Some people find it quicker and easier to find documents this way. But there's a reason why you should store your documents in files on your hard drive. Your hard drive is backed up, but documents stored on your desktop are not. If your computer crashes and has to be restored, all those documents or files stored on your desktop cannot be retrieved and will be lost forever.


2) Don't use your email as a filing cabinet


Like your hard drive, your emails are backed up to the cloud. But because of the sheer volume of data being backed up, most dealerships keep 30 days worth of backups. Unlike the files stored on your hard drive, all emails older than 30 days are deleted. If your computer crashes and the data must be restored via backup, only your emails for the last 30 days will be available.


If an email contains an important document, download it and save it to a file on your hard drive. Also you can take screen shots of important email communications and save those in files as well.



3) Lock your computer when you leave your desk


When you go to a meeting, out to lunch or walk away from your computer for any reason, lock your computer. This is a security issue. It may sound far-fetched, but there have been instances of opportunistic hackers taking advantage of unmanned computers. These could be your colleagues, customers or outside vendors working on site.


It doesn't take long to install a piece of malware, virus or remote login software, which could allow a hacker to take control of your dealership's entire network!


To instantly lock computers using Windows 8 and 10:

a) Open the Start Menu, click on your user icon and choose Lock from the list.

b) Press Ctrl+Alt+Del simultaneously, then select Lock from the options presented.


4) Perform 'software updates'


If your dealership doesn't have a managed services provider doing this for you, it's critical that someone updates the software operating system and applications on every computer on a regular basis. This is an important security issue. Microsoft issues frequent updates for Windows and other business applications that help to prevent new malware or viruses from infecting your computer.


Also, if you don't update software from other vendors, these applications will eventually become incompatible with newer versions of other applications.


The easiest way to check for software updates on your PC is to make a list of all the applications you use on a weekly basis. As you launch each application, check the settings. Update notifications are typically found in there.


5) Don't click on attachments or links in emails from people you don't know


Phishing is the most common way that hackers gain access to your dealership's network. Common examples of phishing emails include:

  • An email from UPS or FedEx notifying you that a package is on its way, providing you with the tracking number. It encourages you to click on the link to see when your package will arrive.
  • An email from Starbucks containing a coupon for a free coffee. It encourages you to enter personal information to retrieve the coupon.
  • An email from PayPal notifying you there is a discrepancy with your account, with a link to the login page.
  • A fraud notice from your bank or credit card company with a link to the login page. If you're concerned about fraud, call the institution directly using the phone number on your card.
  • An email from your boss or dealership principal asking you to wire money to an account, with specific instructions on how to do so. Always call to verbally verify requests for money transfers.
  • An email from Dropbox or Google Docs telling you a file is waiting to be downloaded, with a link to a fake login page.
  • Social media invites. If you receive an email alerting you that someone wants to connect with you on Linked In or Facebook, don't click on the link provided. Instead, go directly to the social media site via your browser and accept the invitation there.


6) Re-start your PC daily


Some people leave their PC on all the time, day in and day out. Or they put it into sleep or hibernate mode. This is not healthy for a computer.


Restarting a PC finalizes updates and installations, prevents processors from becoming overloaded, flushes RAM, stops memory leaks and fixes many other coding and bug issues. In short, re-starting your PC daily will keep it running faster and more efficiently.


These are just a few things that every user should know about their PC. Do you have any tips to keep your PC running smoothly?

Maddy Low

These are all interesting thoughts, I'd love to see a series like this for a Mac specifically! 

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