The following are some basic tips for keeping yourself and your computer safe.
Install a good anti-virus program, update it regularly, and scan often. Mitchell Hamline provides free anti-virus software from Microsoft for your computer. More information can be found here: /technology/antivirus-software/
Use strong and secure passwords. The security design of many systems requires you to enter a password. The object of having a password is to prevent others from posing as you or accessing your data. Follow these tips for choosing a strong password. Keep your password secure by not writing it down and not sharing it with others.
Lock your screen before you walk away. You can easily lock you screen be pressing ctrl-alt-del and then selecting lock desktop. Use this feature to protect your computer when you step away from your desk for a few minutes.
Use screen saver passwords and system passwords whenever possible. Screen savers that come with modern operating systems can easily be configured to require a password to get back to your regular screen.
Do not open email attachments unless you are expecting them from a specific sender. Email headers can be changed or simulated, so even if you think the mail came from a friend, don’t click on or open the attachment until you verify that the sender actually sent it.
Don’t download software from the Internet of unknown origin and/or unknown security. Some software, including screen savers, can include features that make your computer vulnerable or allow access to your personal data without your knowledge or permission. To check for this type of software, download and run a spyware/adware checker.
Don’t let just anyone use your computer. You are responsible for all use of your computer. Do not make it easily accessible to strangers.
Turn off your computer whenever you will not be using it for several hours. Unattended computers that are linked to the network are vulnerable to hackers. Turning off your computer also saves energy.
Make back ups. You should regularly back up all work that you do on your computer. Data saved on your computer’s hard drive can easily be lost if the hard drive fails. If you choose to save your data on a campus server (faculty/staff) or on your SkyDrive (Mitchell students), it will be backed up for you.
Protect your data. Double check and think twice about your work before sharing, printing, or transferring it anywhere else. I am sure you have seen incidents in the news in which data has been transferred inadvertently to non-secure sites and made public. Think twice, or consult with another person, before sharing sensitive data. Confirm that sites to which you are sending data are themselves secure.
Update your operating system. Use your operating system’s automatic-update features to keep your system safe.