Top 10 List of Safe Computing Practices

Below are 10 recommendations on how to keep your computer and your information secure.

Top 10

  1. Use strong passwords, and don't share your password
  2. Beware of scams
  3. Make sure your computer has anti-virus software and is updated
  4. Physically secure laptop computers and mobile devices at all time
  5. Shut down, lock, log off or hibernate your computer or any mobile device before leaving them unattended
  6. Don't download or install unknown or unsolicited programs/apps
  7. Make backup copies of important files/data you don't want to lose
  8. Protect information on social media sites
  9. Don't open suspicious email
  10. Record make, model and serial numbers of your equipment

 


1. Use strong passwords, and don't share your password

  • Don't share your password with anyone, including friends, family or significant others
  • Strong passwords tend to:
    • Contain a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols
    • Contain at least 8 characters
    • Be difficult to guess (avoid names of family members including the dog, birth dates, addresses, etc.)
    • Be easy for you to remember (try using a mnemonic device to help memorization)

2. Beware of scams

  • Never respond to email, instant messages (IM), texts, phone calls, etc. asking you for your password.
  • Only click on links from trusted sources.
  • Don't give private information to anyone you don't know your who doesn't have a legitimate reason for requesting it.
  • Never give out your password.  No legitimate institution will request this information

3. Make sure your computer has anti-virus software and is updated

  • Shut down/restart your computer at least weekly and whenever your installed programs require a reboot to install updates.
  • Schedule weekly antivirus scans

4. Physically secure laptop computers and mobile devices at all time

  • Wherever you typically store your computer, lock it to something permanent
  • In public locations never leave your equipment unattended

5. Shut down, lock, log off or hibernate your computer or any mobile device before leaving them unattended

  • Create a password to log into your devices
  • <ctrl>+<alt>+<delete> or <Windows><L> on a PC; Apple menu or power button on a Mac.
  • Set your devices to automatically lock if it has not been used after a certain time period

6. Don't download or install unknown or unsolicited programs/apps

  • While most applications are safe, some can contain viruses or open your computer to hackers.

7. Make backup copies of important files/data you don't want to lose

  • Either back up files to a secure cloud storage system or on a protected flash drive or external hard drive.

8.  Protect information on social media sites

  • Anything you upload or post on the internet has the potential of being shared out past your intended audience.  Sharing sensitive information could make you susceptible to identity theft
  • Be cautious about posting your birth date, full name and address.  This is the type of information that could be used to get to other information

9. Don't open suspicious email

  • Malicious attachments can infect your computer.  Do not open unsolicited or unexpected attachments even from trusted sources.  Verify an attachment is legitimate through a separate email or phone call.
  • Be careful of any email that looks like it comes from a legitimate institution that requests you to click on a link and give a large amount of personal information.  Look at the URL of the page you are being sent to.  If it isn't from the company, then it often is a Phishing scam.

10. Record make, model and serial numbers of your equipment

  • Sometimes you do everything right and things still happen.  Have this information available to provide to officials.