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Critical IT Mistakes to Avoid

Published on 27 February 15

During our lives we can make all kinds of mistakes - after all, nobody is perfect. However, there is a world of difference between a faux pas and accidentally mailing company credentials to the entire client list. That difference being that one will likely be forgotten about by the end of the day, and the other will result in you needing to brush up your resume as you probably just lost your job. Since there are many elements of IT that can trip even the best of us up, we will take a look at a few to put some extra focus in avoiding.

The last thing in the world you want to do is to accidentally lock the boss out of anything, and the higher up the totem pole you go the worse things get. Typically issues will occur when applying blocking rules through a content filter, but there are other areas where things can go wrong. This probably won’t get you fired, but it will certainly be an uncomfortable conversation, especially if you have a case where a CEO is trying to access something that really shouldn’t be accessed at work. So unless it is something that is deeply, truly awful that will kill the company, grant access exceptions for C-suite employees.

Breaking key functionality in the company, on the other hand, just might get you fired. Even if there is a legitimate reason to, say, have the company online store offline for an extended period of time, everything that can be done to shorten or eliminate the downtime should be done. From the perspective of management, it is absolutely a bad thing to have private data stolen - but it is much worse to not be able to generate new revenue at all for extended periods. It’s a balancing act; to be sure, but try to keep company tools operational as much as possible. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore security alerts for the sake of continued business - that is what happened to Target in 2013 when they suffered their massive breach!

Abuse of power is a great way to lose your job as well - this includes reading things that weren’t intended for you due to incorrectly configured access rights as well as probing for things. Just as curiosity killed the cat, if you decide you want to take a deep dive into the database without permission, you can very easily kill your career. There could be viable reasons to poke at things to make sure they work properly, but if you are right and you stumble upon something you really shouldn’t see, things might end badly.

Not being on top of tasks assigned to you is an obvious way to get fired. You might have 100s of additional tasks on your plate that weren’t planned, but it is still important to get the bread and butter elements of the job done too. For example, if you are charged with managing the backup system, and for some reason you missed a backup, don’t be surprised if you are given a box to collect your things when the CEO needs a file from the backup that never happened. If you want to make things worse, try to cover it up - most systems have pretty in-depth logs, so if you try to cover it up and it becomes clear that you tried to do so, save everyone a lot of time and get the box yourself. At least you won’t have to have the uncomfortable conversation.

Finally, ignoring the messages that you preach to keep the company safe can result in a quick trip out the door. This means using weak or repeated passwords for Admin access when you ask employees to not do just that. Even if your company doesn’t have a policy regarding password use, it becomes hard to protect someone when it becomes clear as day that a breach happened specifically because a personal account got cracked into and that resulted in the company system getting breached. Passwords should always be better than 'Password'. No, 'P@$$word' isn't better.

Many of these elements require keeping on your feet with mental deftness - anyone can make a mistake, but once it happens you need to put out the fire instead of run away from it. For other aspects such as making sure that your job is properly done, don’t be afraid to test out backup plans and network security rules - remember that if they fail when the company really needs them you will likely be on a job board the next day.
This blog is listed under IT Security & Architecture Community

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