I think we’d all agree, free is good. When you’re a small business, especially when you’re first starting out, the mind is boggled by the abundance of free stuff on the internet . In fact, it can be a big help for strapped for cash entrepreneurs. Services like Dropbox and Skype can be budget savers when you’re first starting out. And of course there is all of that free information.
I’ve discussed reasons to be cautious about getting all of your learning for free on the internet, pointing out that it can end up costly in terms of time spent seeking quality information and/or taking erroneous advice. Today I felt it was time to discuss another reason to be cautious of free. It can increase your security risk on your computer and network.
Before you give in to the temptation to download all of those nifty free programs, forms and templates stop for a moment and consider this:
Most computer viruses are contracted through e-mail and downloaded software. That’s right, that bit of free software could be hiding something. Viruses and malware often hitch a ride on those free downloads. This means the more free stuff you try, the higher the probability of one of them having a nasty side effect. Up to date virus programs can help, but even then you could be putting yourself at risk if the virus definitions don’t recognize the virus or malware. Even if you’re lucky enough not to get a nasty virus, some software can mess with your browser settings while installing, changing your default search engine settings or adding a toolbar you don’t want or need.
While taking advantage of what’s available for free on the internet can be a cost saving thing for start-ups and small businesses, be sure you proceed with caution. Research any free software you are considering and weigh the risks to your computer and your business.