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Denice Ann Villegas

By: Denice Ann Villegas on April 7th, 2023

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The Top 10 IT Mistakes To Avoid!

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Making mistakes is part of human nature. It helps us grow and learn new things.  

In the world of information technology, however, mistakes aren’t as welcome. In fact, a major mistake could be catastrophic to a business. While some slip-ups can get you a reprimand, IT mistakes could get you the boot. That's what we’re going to touch on in this article. 

For this, we asked for the expertise of Matthew James, a partner at Intelligent Technical Solutions (ITS) specializing in operations, mergers, and acquisitions. He works closely with our engineers and knows IT tasks and efficient processes like the back of his hand. So, if a mistake is made, Matthew is one of the first to know and act. 

The intent here isn’t to scare people from working in the IT field, but rather for people to better understand how rigorous the field can be. At ITS, we’re most interested to see how our team responds to mistakes, including what changes they make to their process to avoid making similar errors in the future.  

Below, we’ll discuss how to avoid larger, more costly mistakes and what to do if you make them.  

Top 10 IT Mistakes to Steer Clear Of 

To reiterate, we don’t mean to say that you can’t make mistakes. We understand that everyone makes mistakes.  

Just maybe take extra precautions not to make the ones listed below, (remember to measure twice and cut once!): 

1. Failing to manage backups properly 

backupWhen faced with data loss due to security breaches or hardware failure, backups will be your savior. Successfully restoring your backups will keep the company running. It is hard to survive in the industry if you can’t properly create, maintain, secure, and restore client data. 

2. Shutting down systems at the wrong time 

turn offUnexpected and extended downtime can result in losses for a client’s revenue, which is why you must be careful when working within their critical IT infrastructure. Avoid doing anything that could shut it down, like plugging in an infected storage device or downloading a suspicious file. Even if it was accidental, it’s not an easy mistake to let slide when it happens. Make sure to effectively communicate planned outages with stakeholders, leaders and managers and end users well in advance, so the team is aware. Make sure that you have a plan to rollback if you run into issues beforehand. This will reduce user frustration and complaints! 

3. Not keeping up with security vulnerabilities 

security vulnerabilitySlacking on cybersecurity protections and not plugging security gaps is a surefire way to become a victim of security incidents or data leaks. It is best to prioritize the protection of a client’s network, infrastructure, or hardware. Patch core systems, including firmware, operating system patches, and 3rd party applications regularly. Test before widespread rollouts to validate functionality. Make sure to plug those vulnerabilities that malicious actors can exploit. 

4. Ignoring or not investigating security alerts 

device alertSecurity alerts exist for one reason – to inform you that you are currently at risk. Don't ignore them. Respond appropriately by deploying fixes, implementing response plans, and informing management. A minor threat, when ignored, can grow into something that can disrupt the overall IT system causing unexpected outages. 

5. Using real data for testing purposes 

dataTest programs are unpredictable and unreliable. They could be tampered with, which is why you’ll want to avoid using real and sensitive data for critical testing procedures. Generating dummy data for testing may add to the work, but it’s worth making up information you won’t mind leaking or sending out. Avoid fallout by leveraging test data from the get-go. 

6. Remote access without permission 

permission grantedAs an IT professional, you can access external and internal networks and accounts. Make sure you only use this privilege whenever an issue needs to be resolved. Additionally, always ask for permission and inform the other party that you will control their systems. Make sure that remote access is always configured with two-factor authentication.  

7. Not following an onboarding setup checklist

checklist-1Whenever you set up new equipment and hardware, even if it’s a remote user laptop setup, it’s important to follow a checklist to ensure that critical items aren’t missed. Failure to do so could result in a faulty computer that could hamper efficiency and productivity. End users can be touchy when needed applications or configurations are missing when a new laptop is rolled out to them. Remember that part of your job is making sure that clients can utilize their technology in a seamless manner. That's impossible to achieve if you miss items right off the bat. 

8. Not updating software and devices 

updating softwareOutdated applications with vulnerabilities are access points for hackers. They are also more prone to freezes and slowdowns. This means your job doesn’t end after setup. Maintenance of software and devices, as well as keeping up with updates, should be at the top of your to-do list. 

9. Providing poor service quality 

poor servicePoor customer service reflects upon the company and negatively affects client retention.  Client satisfaction is heavily dependent on an IT’s responsiveness. You can achieve this by being prompt in answering inquiries and resolving issues. Remember to avoid geek-speak, and that courtesy and friendliness go a long way. Follow-up calls to ensure that all is working properly is a distinctive touch that helps ensure a great IT experience. 

10. Re-using the same passwords

easy passwordPasswords are the key to your identity and provide access to critical personal and company resources. Leveraging long, complex, and unique passwords go a long way to preventing compromises (along with enabling two-factor authentication). However, if you happen to re-use the same password across multiple accounts, you have dramatically increased the security risk to your company and your identity. Do not re-use passwords at all and avoid the headache. Use a password manager or a Single Sign-on solution if you need help with tracking and managing password access. 

How to Avoid Making Fatal IT Mistakes 

After reviewing the top IT mistakes that must be avoided, we also asked Matthew how to address if you get impacted by one of them. And to that, he said: 

1. Be proactive and have a holistic view of the services we offer. Security, backups, and service quality should always be in one’s mind. 
2. You should also always have the right tools, procedures, and practices in place, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. 
3. Clear, consistent, and effective communication with external and internal parties should also be a priority.  
4. Excellent value and service are what clients expect, so it’s good to go above and beyond by providing support that they didn’t ask for but need. 
5. Do the right thing. As Matthew said, “It comes down to the company’s core values. We can’t expect to be perfect, but we can be expected to do the right thing in those areas.” 

Delve Into IT Work with ITS!  

managed IT services technician working for ITS

To recap, here are the top IT mistakes that could get you on the unemployment line or close to it: 

1. Failing to manage backups properly 
2. Shutting down the system at the wrong time 
3. Not keeping up with security vulnerabilities   
4. Ignoring or not investigating security alerts   
5. Using real data for testing purposes
6. Remote access without permission 
7. Not following an onboarding setup checklist   
8. Not updating software and devices 
9. Providing poor service quality 
10. Re-using the same passwords 

We’re not saying you can’t ever make mistakes. Everyone does. We’re not perfect. Just try to avoid these mistakes using the tips we’ve also listed! 

And if it happens, remember to do the right thing, which according to Matthew, is... “to raise your hand, say what happened, clean up the mess, and take anything from that what you might learn for next time. 

Another way to make sure you avoid these mistakes is to educate yourself about IT. You can do so by checking out Intelligent Technical Solution’s Learning Center. 

And if you want to learn more about IT mistakes and how to resolve or avoid them, please read these specific articles: 

Article: Cybersecurity Simplified: 8 Basic Mistakes to Avoid 

Article: What NOT to Do When Creating an Incident Response Plan 

Article: NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) Password Guidelines 2022: 9 Rules to Follow