(This content was originally posted on JasonPalmer.com)
How often do you walk in to an office and see a computer screen with a document, spreadsheet or email message open but no one sitting at the desk in front of it? Too often would be the correct answer.
When you leave your desk without locking the computer desktop screen, anyone can see whatever is visible on your computer desktop screen at that moment.
What if a co-worker decides this would be a golden opportunity to sit down at your desk for a few minutes and “browse around?” Are you sure that nothing is “open” that might be of a sensitive nature? What if you had your personal Facebook page open or if you were logged in to your personal email account? What if it were your resume, an employee annual review, financial statement information or something else confidential? Do you really want anyone who might sit down at your desk to have immediate and unrestricted access to every document that is open and any web site you are logged in to? I think not.
You are probably thinking that none of this applies if you are in a one to three room office with less than ten people. You would be wrong. Quiz time: Assuming you are in commercial office space, how many of you either do not log out of your computer nor lock your desktop screen when you leave at the end of the day? Almost no one? I thought so. Now, how many of you have a professional cleaning service come in every evening? Who is comfortable with a complete stranger possibly sitting down at your computer and “looking around?” Anyone? No? Again, I thought so.
If you are in a larger office with dozens of co-workers, delivery people, cleaning people and visitors, it is critical that you secure your desktop by locking it every time you leave your desk. Even if you think you will only be gone a minute, you never know. You might be called to a meeting or stop in the hallway for an extended chat. All the while, your computer is exposed to anyone who might pass by and “take a look” at what you are doing.
Just like in the physical world, locks keep honest people honest. It takes only seconds to lock your desktop. In Windows, just press the Windows key and the “L” key simultaneously. When you return, press “CTRL-ALT-DELETE,” like you normally would to get the User Name and Password prompt. Enter your password, and you are back at your desktop EXACTLY where you left off.
Mac users, you can press CTRL-SHIFT-EJECT or you can click on the LOCK in the top menu bar and select “Lock Screen.” NOTE: Many Mac users still do not have a password set so locking the screen on a Mac is of limited value unless you set a password that is required to be entered AFTER the screen saver engages.
Locking your desktop screen helps maintain your privacy and protects you and your company from prying eyes.