Blog / Turn It Off

Two factors within the last 12 to 18 months have changed this recommendation to where we now recommend that clients turn their computers OFF at the end of each day.
With the release of Windows 10, the Windows update service has changed to a schedule of Microsoft’s choosing.  Computers now update on what appears to be an arbitrary schedule.  In fact, Microsoft are now staggering the updates to allow more time to update the increasing number of machines they have to manage. Also, unless you are on Windows 10 ENTERPRISE, users and IT Managers have very little control over when updates are scheduled – or what gets updated. Even computers on the same network can have different schedules. There is little or no advantage to leaving a Windows 10 computer running in the hopes that updates will be performed after hours. In fact, the opposite is true, as many Windows 10 updates require the computer to be restarted, and it’s best to have control of how and when this happens.
Two types of malware attacks are now making it imperative to power-down your computer; you don’t want to leave it unattended for very long.
The first type of attack is one that takes remote control of your computer.  Built into every current version of Windows is a service called Remote Desktop (RDP). This attack can start through a variety of ways; opening an infected file, clicking on a malware link, or brute-force hacking a simple password. Once activated a hacker can take remote control of your entire computer, with all the rights and permissions the user has.  We have seen at least two instances where additional software was installed, passwords were changed, websites were surfed, and new user accounts were created on the network.  It’s a mess! In one case, it was possible to see the hacker actually manipulate the mouse and remote-type on their keyboard.
The second type of attack is a delayed malware infection. In this case, the computer becomes infected (again through an infected file or malware link), but the virus remains dormant. At a predetermined time (most often after hours), the virus activates and does it’s damage.
In both cases, an unattended computer – one left on after-hours – will have lots of time to inflict damage on the network. If either of these attacks were to happen during normal business hours, the user most likely would be alerted to it sooner rather than later.

There are other reasons to power off at the end of the day; it saves electricity, the computer will last longer, and the computer Random Access Memory (RAM) will be purged of temporary files and unneeded program stubs.

And here’s a tip when powering on in the morning: after logging in to the network, give the computer at least a couple of minutes to load the variety of background services and applications.  It may cause fewer errors when opening your favourite programs.

Of course, servers and networking equipment MUST run continuously, as must some special-purpose computers that operate critical infrastructure; HVAC systems, Security monitoring, and SCADA (water treatment) systems are a few.

As we come into the holiday season, when many offices are closed for several days, you’ll want to insure the computers are powered off.

Please contact me or your Primary Tech if you would like more information on what computers in your organization should be powered down.