With a new wave of harmful computer viruses and worms making the rounds, college students should be more vigilant than ever in protecting their computers, especially when they are on a wireless network. Following these simple precautionary measures can help avoid system vulnerabilities and computer failure.
Install Anti-Virus Software – Make sure you have anti-virus software installed and that it is setup to update daily. Most colleges and universities have a license that allows students and faculty to download the software for free on personal and school-owned computers. Contact your school’s IT department to learn more.
Download OS Updates – Microsoft will sometimes issue critical OS updates or security patches for Windows which are designed to make the operating system more secure. Make sure you download and install them when available. If you need help doing so, contact the manufacturer’s technical support.
Use Strong Passwords – Always use strong password (including letters, numbers, and characters) for all your accounts. This can make it more difficult for hackers to access your computer and personal information.
Be Careful what You Download – A good rule of thumb to follow is to only download programs and software from reputable sources and companies, such as your University or computer manufacturer. Free software that can be downloaded from the internet can contain harmful spyware, which you may be downloading without even knowing.
Don’t Open Email from Unknown Users – Before opening email attachments, make sure you know who the sender is; otherwise you may be opening something harmful to your system. Delete all spam and if a message simply looks suspicious, it probably is.
Backup Your Data – Whether you need PC or Mac backup software, make sure you are regularly backing up all important electronic files (such as photos, music files, important text documents, etc.). If your laptop is damaged or stolen, you should be able to easily access the backups and restore the information.
Logout or Shut Down – When you aren’t using your computer, whether in the library or your dorm room, get into the habit of logging out of your account, locking the screen, or shutting down the computer completely. You never know who can gain access to your computer and personal files in just a few short minutes.