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Follow these tips to keep your computer's security tight. If this is your first visit, use these tips as a security checklist.

  1. Patch, Patch, PATCH!
    Set up your computer for automatic software and operating system updates. An unpatched machine is more likely to have software vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
  2. Install protective software.
    Sophos is available as a free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux from IS&T's software grid. When installed, the software should be set to scan your files and update your virus definitions on a regular basis.
  3. Choose strong passwords.
    Strong passwords use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters to create a mental image or an acronym that is easy for you to remember. Create a different password for each important account, and change passwords regularly. LastPass can manage all of your passwords for you -- and it's free!
  4. BACK UP on a regular basis!
    Regular, scheduled backups can protect you from the unexpected. Keep a few months' worth of backups and make sure the files can be retrieved if needed. Download and install CrashPlan and learn how to back up your system.
  5. Control access to your machine.
    Don't leave your computer in an unsecured area, or unattended and logged on, especially in public places. This includes Athena clusters and Quickstations. The physical security of your machine is just as important as its technical security.
  6. Use email and the internet safely.
    Ignore unsolicited emails, and be wary of attachments, links, and forms in emails that come from people you don't know, or which seem "phishy." Avoid untrustworthy (often free) downloads from freeware or shareware sites. Learn more about spam filtering.
  7. Use secure connections.
    When connected to the internet, your data can be vulnerable while in transit. Use remote connectivity and secure file transfer options when off campus.
  8. Protect sensitive data.
    Reduce the risk of identity theft. Securely remove sensitive data files from your hard drive, which is also recommended when recycling or repurposing your computer. Use the encryption tools built into your operating system to protect sensitive files.
  9. Use desktop firewalls.
    Mac and Windows computers have basic desktop firewalls as part of their operating systems. When set up properly, these firewalls protect your computer files from being scanned.
  10. Most importantly, stay informed.
    Stay current with the latest developments for your operating systems. Subscribe to the IS&T Security-FYI electronic newsletter.