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Computer Security Recommendations
 
Many new computers ship with very poor default security, which can become hazardous when they are connected to the Internet. This page is intended to provide you with some basic steps you can take to increase the security of your laptop.
 
No single product can provide total security; different tools stop different threats. If you implement the suggestions below to add multiple layers of security, your machine will be a lot more difficult to compromise.
 

Keep your operating system up to date
Don't undermine your computer's protection by providing hackers "back doors" to your computer. Updating your operating system (and your applications such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Flash) plugs security holes that hackers are constantly seeking. Check for Microsoft Updates or Apple Software updates at least once a week to keep your computer up-to-date with security and other bug patches. Do a check as "close to immediately" as possible after connecting to the Internet. Both Windows Update and Apple's Software update are turned on by default.  Instructions for how to check if you are receiving updates automatically are below:

Mac OSX 10.6+
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows 8 or 8.1

WINDOWS
 
Anti-virus Notes for Windows
Law IT strongly recommends that you have some kind of anti-virus program on your computer that is up-to-date. Many PCs come with trial versions of anti-virus software, but they usually expire after a couple of months forcing you to purchase a full version in order to keep up to date with the latest malware threats. Rather than pay for these types of subscriptions, the University recommends downloading and installing Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) for Windows Vista or 7. MSE is free for personal use to all genuine Windows users. If you have Windows 8 or 8.1, Windows Defender (the equivalent to Security Essentials) should be installed and enabled by default. You should check to make sure it's running properly. 
  1. Make sure that if you have an anti-virus program already installed you remove it and restart your computer before installing any new anti-virus software.
  2. One sign that your computer may be infected is that your anti-virus program stops updating properly, or disappears from the taskbar.   If you decide to install MSE, make sure that the icon in the taskbar is green MSE taskbar icon indicating that it is up to date, and protecting your computer.
 
Windows Download MSE for Windows Vista or 7
 
 

 
Other Important Security Tips for Windows
  1. Make sure your computer is set to receive Windows Updates and has a Firewall program enabled. To check:

       How to tell what version of Windows you have Windows Vista: Click Start | Control Panel | Security Center.
         All items listed here should be "ON". VISTA


       How to tell what version of Windows you have Windows 7: Click Start | Control Panel | Action Center.  Make sure there are no security issues detected.

          Example: 7


       How to tell what version of Windows you have Windows 8 and 8.1: From the Start Screen type 'Control Panel' and press Enter

    Now click System and Security | Action Center.  Make sure there are no security issues detected.

          Example: 8 and 8.1

  2. Keep other programs up to date. Many malware attacks prey on computers with outdated versions of popular programs such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, and Java.   To better protect yourself against these threats, update these programs when you are prompted to do so.

    View an example of a common 'scareware' threat.
For more security information, visit the University's Safe Computing website.

Mac

Anti-virus Notes for Mac
The University supports Sophos Anti-Virus, which is available for free at the link below.
  1. Make sure that if you have an anti-virus program already installed you remove it and restart your computer before installing any new anti-virus program.
  2. Make sure to check the date on your anti-virus program often. One sign that your computer may be infected is that your anti-virus program stops updating properly.
 
How to check the date for Sophos Anti-Virus:

Click on the Sophos shield icon in the top menu bar and choose Update Now
 
Make sure Sophos states that it is up to date. 
 
 
MAC OSX   Download Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac
 
 

 
Other Important Security Tips for Mac
  1. Make sure your computer has a Firewall enabled. To check:
    Click the Apple Menu | System Preferences...

             How to tell what version of OSX you have Mac OSX 10.8 and 10.9: Click Security & Privacy | Firewall tab.
         If the Firewall is Off, then you should click Turn On Firewall to turn it      on.

             How to tell what version of OSX you have Mac OSX 10.7: Click Security & Privacy | Firewall tab.
         If the Firewall is Off, then you should click Start to turn it on.

             How to tell what version of OSX you have Mac OSX 10.6: Click Security | Firewall tab.
         If the Firewall is Off, you should click Start to turn it on.

    NOTE: You may need to click the lock icon Lock Icon at the bottom of the window and authenticate first to make this change.

  2. Change Safari to not open "safe" files after downloading. One known malware attack takes advantage of this default setting. To change it:
    • Open Safari
    • Click the Safari menu in the top toolbar and choose Preferences....
    • Under the General tab, uncheck Open "safe" files after downloading.

 uncheck this setting

View an example of a malware threat for Macs.

 
Backups are Critical
Part of good security is keeping backups of your important files; multiple backups to flash drive, Cloud storage, etc. Backups are inexpensive. Data recovery, on the other hand, is very expensive. Make backups often and check the backups to make sure that they are reliable.
 
 
 
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