By Daniel Hunter

Bad IT habits are rife in offices up and down the country, some of which pose serious security threats, that’s according to new research by leading supplier of office technology solutions, Altodigital.

The poll of 500 employees in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the UK revealed that workers are guilty of committing some of the most infamous IT ‘no-nos’, from regularly eating at computers (29%), spilling food and drink in their keyboards, and using a personal email address instead of their company account (one-in-five).

The findings also revealed a further 20% of employees are committing the ultimate storage faux pas, saving documents to their desktop rather than a secure server.

Perhaps more serious is that a surprising 9% of SMEs do not safeguard their IT systems from threats with virus software and security passwords, with more than one-in-10 neglecting to protect confidential files (12%) — all of which has the potential to lead to major security breaches. Similarly, 16% of employees admit to regularly printing in colour instead of black and white, a habit which may seem innocent but can have significant financial implications. This is due to, in most cases, colour prints costing 10x more than black and white.

The study highlighted other “bad habits” including using a personal Dropbox account instead of a server, emailing without a signature and turning off computers without shutting them down properly. It seems those working in finance are the worst offenders, with a massive 88% confessing to frequently committing one or more IT bad habits.

Tony Burnett, Group Sales Director at Altodigital said: “Any IT professional will tell you about the IT bad habits they encounter in organisations on a daily basis. Even though employees often know what they’re doing is bad practice, many think taking shortcuts will save them time and make their jobs easier. However, these habits all have the potential to impact on an organisation; from the security risks from not using virus software and passwords to the way the organisation is perceived by its customer — using a personal email address for instance, will not project a professional image. We’d recommend that businesses look to address these bad habits with a view to avoiding unnecessary issues and costs which they have the potential to cause."