Office workers are baffled by computer jargon and make serious business blunders because they see ‘IT speak’ as a foreign language, a survey has revealed.

Among office workers 26% aren’t sure what a firewall does and therefore have been tempted to turn it off. A firewall is a form of computer security that prevents unauthorised access from the internet and turning it off is the worst thing you can do.

A massive 61% don’t understand the difference between gigabytes, kilobytes and megabytes and as a result have sent e-mails with huge attachments that have blocked clients’ systems.

Around 48% are confused by different kinds of files like Jpegs and PDFs and don’t know how they should be used.

A further 23% are not sure whether to upload or download – requiring further contact with the IT department for an explanation.

From java-script and cookies to Trojan horses and worms, over two-thirds (68%) of office workers believe IT lingo is incomprehensible. And almost 32% of office blunders are caused by misunderstandings surrounding ‘IT speak’.

Nearly 75% of people said they spend more than an hour every week simply trying to find out what something means in order to finish a task, according to the survey by recruitment consultants Computer People.

Psychologist Tom Stewart, whose company System Concepts designs user-friendly technology, said office workers were still very reluctant to try to sort out IT problems themselves.

‘Jargon is always something other people use. If you use it yourself it’s just a technical term.

‘Computers are something that all office workers use most of the time and you cannot avoid having some knowledge of them.

‘It’s like driving a car – you don’t have to be a mechanical engineer to drive and most people will learn something about the mechanics of cars, like what the spark plugs or carburetors do. But with the computer people have not got to the point where they are willing to lift up the bonnet and have a go themselves.’

And it isn’t just the older generation who feel out of the loop – more than one in two (54%) office workers under 30 have made a blunder because of confusion over the meaning of IT jargon.

More here.