As you may know, attacks against networks and computer systems by viruses and other malicious threats are rising dramatically each year.
What you may not know is that there are virtual threats, like hackers, dedicated to bypassing computer security and exploiting your workstation for financial gains. These financial gains include identity theft, misuse of confidential information and fraud. As a result, it has become very difficult to protect workstations and laptops from attacks and still maintain an open and usable environment.
The University Information Security Office (UISO) encourages you to use the tools available to protect your computer from hackers, viruses and malicious software. The following tips will help mitigate, but will not completely remove, the risks associated with accessing the Internet on today's operating systems.
Creating Strong Passwords and Change Them Regularly
Always use a strong password for every account you maintain.
A strong password consists of at least eight characters that are a combination of letters, numbers and symbols (@, #, $, %, etc.), if allowed.
Passwords are typically case-sensitive, so a strong password contains letters in both uppercase and lowercase. Strong passwords also do not contain words that can be found in a dictionary or facts that can be easily associated with the person using the password, such as birthdays or phone numbers.
Do not use the same strong password for every online service that requires one. It would take just one system failing to protect your information to unravel access to all of your personal and financial information – putting your information at risk.
Enroll in the Password Management System by going to password.georgetown.edu
Physically Protecting Your Computer
Take defensive measures to protect your computer. This includes turning off your workstation or laptop, or disconnecting from the Internet, when you’re not working for long periods of time. Make sure your workstation and laptop are protected from theft by using cables and locks. Use special care with your laptop while in public places or traveling. Keep it out of sight in order to deter thieves.
Remember that thieves are specifically targeting laptops for the information they may contain therefore, protect your laptop as you would
any valuable piece of jewelry.
Using Your Georgetown Computer as a Work-Only Computer
Do not add software to your computer that is not provided by Georgetown. Unauthorized software loaded onto your computer can greatly increase the risk of invasion to your computer by viruses or other malicious threats. In addition, never install peer-to-peer file sharing software to your Georgetown computer as using it can put you at risk for accessing copyrighted material illegally.
For your home computer, you should be wary of installing toolbars, applications, games, video and peer-to-peer file sharing software. Remember that your home computer can be attacked by the same thieves that attack your computer at work.
Practicing Safe Computing
- Use a password-protected screen saver to lock your computer while you are away from it for any amount of time.
- Make sure you have antivirus software installed and set to update regularly.
- Make sure you keep your operating system and applications up to date.
- Do not open software from unknown sources.
- Never click on links from e-mails or Instant Messages asking for information. A good rule of thumb is to type in the link of the desired website or document, or copy and paste it, in your browser's address bar to access the information.
To download antivirus software for your home computer, visit our GU Software Webstore.
Knowing Where to Turn for Help
If any of these tips or best practices do not make sense, ask for help! Visit the UISO website at security.georgetown.edu or call the University Information Services Help Desk at 202-687-4949.
Never Assume You are Safe
While the university takes steps to protect information and information systems as threats increase and change, do your part and take on the responsibility to practice safe computing to protect the information
in your care.