Basic System Security

When you purchased you first computer, you were probably only aware of the benefits it brought to you - the benefits of searching for information and finding it almost immediately, keeping in contact with friends and colleagues, storing documents, etc. At some point you have also come to know that while many people on the Internet are ambiguous about your presence, there are those who are not. You recognize that malevolence exists on the Internet and that you must take certain steps to lessen your exposure to phishers and hackers by protecting your computers.

Information Security recommends that you

Operating System Updates
These tasks are neither complex nor unnecessarily technical but can significantly improve your system's stability and security. See 'Upgrading Your Operating System' for steps to ensure these functions are working properly.

Antivirus/Antispyware Software
Antivirus and antispyware software are available through WPI's Computing and Communication Center. The CCC Helpdesk has instructions on how to install and use McAfee Virusscan, WPI's licenses anti-virus solution.

Password Strengthening
Information Security encourages you to adopt a robust password that includes lower-case and upper-case letters, numbers, and symbols. We also encourage you to change this frequently - every 90 days is the current recommendation. Breaches have occurred because people use simple, easily deciphered passwords, such as date of birth or common names or words. By mixing the use of letters, numbers, and phrases you make your password increasingly difficult to decipher. The WPI IT Division's stance on a strong password is located at 'Password Standard' on the data security policy website.

Personal Devices: USB keys, cell phones, PDAs, etc.
The issue of security of your USB key, cell phone, or PDA can be addressed with two rules: know where your device is at all times, donít store any data on the device that can be considered sensitive information. WPI offers a standard on security around these devices. WPI has begun dispensing USB keys to personnel who must transport personal information as a way to keep information secure. The keys are encrypted and they come with a form of biometric authentication. Contact the CCC Helpdesk via email or at ext. 5888 for help in aquiring an encryptable USB key.

Firewalls are software or hardware that screen out malevolence in the form of viruses, worms, and trojans that are seeking to enter your computer without your authorization and that will adversely affect the performance and capability of your system. Adoption of a firewall is the first step toward security for your computer. Directions on how to enable your computer's firewall are available.

Security Quiz
Being secure online takes some acquired knowledge. Test your knowledge and learn the best techniques to keep yourself safe online by visiting the Stay Safe Online website.

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Last modified: Sep 17, 2008, 22:00 EDT
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