Personal Use of Workspace Computers for Employees

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Employers and employees sometimes find themselves at an impasse when it comes to having employees use workspace computers for personal business. How a business handles the issue is a matter of preference. Some businesses have lax policies about personal use, while others are rigid when it comes to tolerated use.

ompany Policy

  • In a 2007 survey conducted by the American Management Association, nearly 30 percent of the employers surveyed revealed that employees had been fired for breaking the rules regarding email. These included such reasons as an excessive personal use of email and downloading or viewing material that was deemed inappropriate. It’s important to have a clearly defined policy in place when dealing with personal use of the workplace computers so there cannot be any misconceptions about when a line has been crossed.

Email

  • If an employee sends email from an account that is cloud-based (such as Yahoo! or Gmail) on a company computer, that email can be subject to company monitoring if the computer sending the email is the property of the company. Companies should advise employees when such monitoring practices are in place, although employees might also want to assume that all correspondence from within the company is being monitored.

Monitoring

  • Businesses can set up monitoring software that will allow the company to oversee what operations are being done from within the company. Depending upon the software, the monitoring can be as advanced as logging every keystroke made by a computer terminal to just the basics of telling what sort of usage a terminal performed. If a company has a personal use policy in which employees are given a certain amount of time to use company computers within boundaries established by the business, basic monitoring will show if a computer has been used during company time or personal time.

Personal Computers

  • Some companies are letting their employees decide upon the kind of computer they want to use at work–and some are allowing their employees to use their own computers at work. Implementing that kind of policy would definitely require extensive rules as to what material can be stored on the computer, what activities can be done on the computer while at work, and other issues a company might need to explore.

Social Networking

  • While social networking on a workplace computer during working hours might seem to be a detriment to productivity, it’s important to note that there are some companies and individuals that seem to think that allowing workers to occasionally use social networking sites during working hours can increase productivity. This is because part of the creative process entails stepping back from a project and taking a break. When that break entails engaging others in unique ways (such as through online postings), it can actually lead to breakthroughs in the process.

How to Unblock Cookies on Your Computer

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Unblocking cookies on your computer is necessary for some websites–particularly those with shopping carts or log-in portals. Cookies are tracking devices that save bits of information regarding the websites you visit onto your computer. This allows your Web preferences, shopping cart contents and other personal information to be saved when you reopen the site at a later date. All Web browsers give users the opportunity to block or enable cookies as part of their privacy settings.

Internet Explorer

  1. Open your Internet Explorer browser and select the “Tools” option in the top menu bar.
  2. Click on “Internet Options” and choose the “Privacy” tab. This is where you can alter your privacy settings and choose whether or not to allow pop-up windows from appearing.
  3. Change the privacy settings by moving the slider and choosing a setting that suits your Internet privacy needs. You can choose to accept all cookies, only first person cookies or only first-person cookies with compact privacy policies.

Mozilla Firefox

  1. Open your Firefox web browser and click on “Tools” in the upper toolbar.
  2. Scroll down to “Options” and select the “Privacy” tab.
  3. Change the settings under the History heading so that Firefox uses custom settings for history. You will then have the ability to unblock all cookies or to accept only first-person cookies.

Apple Safari

  1. Open your Safari web browser and click on the Action Menu which is located in the upper right-hand side of the screen and looks like a gear.
  2. Click on “Preferences” and then on the “Security” icon on the top of the screen.
  3. Select whether you want to accept all cookies or only accept cookies from websites that you personally visit. This will block cookies from third-party sites and advertisers.

HIPAA Computer Regulations

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When the health industry began to see a rise in the use of electronic media, the government stepped in to assure consumers of medical records privacy and security. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act known as HIPAA was the result. Regulations are broken into two areas–privacy and security. HIPAA computer regulations fall under the HIPAA security rules. Health care providers have to follow HIPAA guidelines when transmitting personal health information in electronic format.

Physical Computer Safeguards

  • Personnel workstations and electronic media must be protected from unauthorized access under HIPAA regulations. All entities covered under HIPAA rules are required to write and implement procedures and policies that outline the proper access and use of all computer equipment. The policies and procedures must be based on an individual risk analysis conducted by the facility’s management.

    A risk analysis includes the identification of all computers, devices and networks in detail—all software, hardware and network systems must be examined. The facility or business in question must outline and understand the use of computers and technology in its day-to-day routines and in the overall management of its patient records. Electronic interaction with outside vendors, like billing companies, laboratories and product suppliers, should be included in the risk analysis.

Technical Computer Safeguards

  • HIPAA regulations require a series of technical controls be put into place to protect patient records. Included is a written procedure and a software control tool for the following: user access, system audit and data integrity. Access control should allow only authorized users to enter and use the computer system. Password and log-in procedures along with firewall software can protect the computer from intruders at several levels.

    Audit software can record computer activity and examine access or attempted access of systems and records. Integrity issues like the destruction or damage of electronic records should include a backup and restore software tool. In addition, procedures should cover how to identify records ready for storage and what to do in cases where the records have become corrupted within a database.

Transmission Security

  • Unauthorized access of records during transmission from one entity to another is included in HIPAA regulations. The risk analysis of each business will dictate the needs for securing transmission using authentication tools on computer workstations and networks. Offices or facilities that do not connect to an outside computer system, but instead use only a local (on site) network of computers, will create a different solution to transmission security than those with networks that reach into other businesses.

    Entities falling under the requirements of HIPAA regulations should examine their transmission options with their software and hardware vendors. Information Security Publication number 800-63 entitled “Electronic Authentication Guideline,” produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, provides insight into the ways federal agencies design electronic authentication or e-authentication. The information is recommended reading for health care managers handling the implementation of HIPAA regulations.

How to Buy a Computer for Day Trading

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There are specific features you need to look for when you buy a computer for day trading. First, look for a computer with an enormous amount of speed and power. Day traders run multiple programs at the same time and constantly scan the markets for trading setups. Next, take the video card into consideration. The average day trader tends to watch 3 or more monitors at one time. Your computer must have multiple-monitor capability.

Instructions

  1. Consider having your computer custom built. A pre-configured system offered by the big names in the computer industry may not have all of the bells and whistles that you need for day trading. A custom computer can be optimized for trading by modifying settings in the Microsoft XP operating system.
  2. Upgrade to the latest computer processors for optimum power. The more powerful a day trading computer is, the more markets and charts it can manage at one time.
  3. Make sure that your computer system offers redundancy. Having dual hard disk drives means when one of the drives crashes, the other drive can go into action. Likewise, with two LAN ports, one port can be enabled when the other goes bad.
  4. Insist on having an option for a Twin WAN router so that you can hook up both cable and DSL Internet services. When one of the services stops working, the Twin WAN has an automatic switchover. It can also use both connections to give you the equivalent of a T1 line.
  5. Pay attention to the computer’s noise level. You must be able to concentrate when you are day trading. Get a triple-layer computer case capable of blocking noise and vibration and look for a computer that doesn’t require fans to cool the motherboard and video card.

How to Measure a Computer Screen for a Privacy Filter

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Whether you work at home with small children or have nosy co-workers, sometimes it is necessary to purchase a privacy filter for your computer screen. These types of filters prevent roving eyes from viewing what is on your computer screen, but give you a clear view when sitting in front of the computer. The filter provides a blurred view of the screen from the side angle. It is vital to determine what size privacy filter your computer requires before purchasing one.

Instructions

  1. Place one end of the tape measure on a bottom corner of the viewing screen of the computer. It is vital that you measure only the viewing area when determining the size for a privacy filter.
  2. Pull the tape measure to the opposite top corner of the viewing screen.
  3. Write down the measurement and take it with you when shopping for a privacy filter.

How to Use a Home Computer Without a Phone Line

Internet alternatives to a phone line include cable and satellite service.
The main reason for using a phone line with a home computer would be to establish an Internet connection or place calls through the computer, so using a home computer without a telephone line becomes a matter of choosing alternatives for an Internet connection. DSL and dial-up Internet connections are the two types of services available over a phone line. Alternatives include wireless connections via satellite and broadband cable service.

Instructions

  1. Use a home computer for normal computing tasks such as word processing, book keeping and desktop publishing without the need for a phone line or any other connection. Computers with multi-media capability such as a DVD drive can be used to enjoy movies and music or to burn audio and video to disc without the need for a phone line or other connection.
  2. Connect the computer to a broadband service through a cable TV or satellite provider. This service requires a cable modem connected to the computer by Ethernet cable to the port on the PC. The Ethernet cable resembles a standard telephone line, but with a wider plug. Insert the plug with the wider edge facing downward from the modem to the PC, pushing straight in until it clicks.
  3. Connect the modem to the coaxial cable from the wall, which will be set up by a service technician after contacting the company to establish Internet service. The coupler on the end of the cable turns clockwise around the threaded jack on the back of the modem, which can then be connected to an electrical outlet with the DC power cord.
  4. Connect home computers equipped with a wireless receiver (Wi-Fi) to the cable or satellite modem by turning on the Wi-Fi switch located on the keyboard or along the edge of a laptop.
  5. Double-click the satellite icon on the task bar at the bottom of the computer screen to open a window listing the available wireless connections. Double-click on the name of the connection that serves the home computer. This name will be established when the technician installs the modem for service.
  6. Type in the alpha-numeric code provided for the home service into the box labeled “Network Security Key” and click “OK” to establish the Internet connection.
  7. Double-click an Internet browser icon such as Firefox or Internet Explorer to open a browser and begin exploring the web without a telephone line.

How to Remove Restrictions on a Computer

If you are a computer user you may occasionally run into a problem with areas and files restricted from access. This can be either a preset on the computer when the operating system was first installed, or someone could have created restrictions to restrict access at a later date. Whatever the reason, it is possible to remove the restrictions created, giving you total access to the computer.

Instructions

  1. Click on the “Start” button and locate “My Computer.” Right-click “My Computer” and select “Properties” from the pull-down menu. This opens up the “System Properties” menu.
  2. Select the “Computer Name” tab, followed by clicking “Change.”
  3. Click the “Workgroup” option and click “OK.” This will open up access to the computer to all users.
  4. Select “Apply” in the “System Properties” window, followed by “OK.” This makes the changes permanent and removes any restrictions created.