Basic Tips on Keeping Your Computer Safe

  1. Use antivirus protection. All Marshall students, faculty and staff are licensed to use Symantec Endpoint Protection antivirus software on their personally owned computers. You may download it at: http://www.marshall.edu/antivirus/.
    Keep your antivirus software and definitions updated. Outdated antivirus cannot protect your computer against current malware threats. Scan your computer for viruses regularly.
    Malwarebytes is a very effective malware scanner. A free version is available for personal use at: http://malwarebytes.org/
  2. Use strong passwords. Creating a tough password is not hard as it seems. Good passwords should not easily guessed and should not include personal information, any part of your name or relatives and pet’s names, Social Security number, birthday, and words commonly found in a dictionary. Instead of random characters you can create a passphrase – a sequence of words that would be memorable and meaningful to you only. Passphrase should have at least twelve characters, upper and lower case letters, numbers, special characters such as $, !, ?, # and &. For example a phrase like “To Be or Not to Be” can become a passphrase “2B<>2bE!” or “Mississippi” could become Mrs.Ippi.Check the strength of your passwords. Visit following website that calculates how long it would take a regular desktop PC to crack the password using a brute-force attack: http://howsecureismypassword.net/.
    The average person is faced with numerous password protected websites. Consider using a password manager such as LastPass (http://lastpass.com/). Password managers can capture passwords from sites you are using and automatically fill in saved log-ins and forms. They can also help to generate strong passwords for you.
  3. Change your MUID pin.Your MUID PIN is no longer restricted to six digits. It can include upper and lower case letters and numbers and be up to 15 characters long. To change your MUID pin log in to MyMU portal and look for ‘ChangePin’ icon: http://www.marshall.edu/mymu/
  4. Update and patch regularly. Unpatched and outdated applications are the primary target for the malware infection. Download updates and patches for operating systems and other software as soon as they become available. Programs like Adobe’ s PDF Reader and Flash, Java, Quick time and Microsoft Office apps are frequenlty targeted.
    Manually checking for updates for each of the applications can be quite a task. This task can be simplified with the use of the Secunia’s free Online Software Inspector (OSI): http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/online/ . This is a web-based scan so you do not have to download or install anything on your computer. The results of the scan will include a list of any updates for the programs installed on a computer. To learn more about the Secunia software visit: http://www.marshall.edu/infosec/secunia-software-scanners/.
  5. Back up your data. Data loss can occur through a variety of ways such as malware infection, software or hardware failure, the loss or theft of your computer, power surges, accidental deletion, file corruption and etc. Be sure that you have a back up copy of your electronic files, digital photographs, e-mail correspondence and calendar items. Consider using multiple points of backup to lessen the likelihood of complete data loss such as:
    • External Hard Drives- This option works best for backing up large amounts of data or even the entire computer: http://www.marshall.edu/infosec/external/
    • V: drive – Backing up to the Marshall’s network. All faculty, students and staff have a personal V: drive or virtual disk space provided by Marshall University. It is a secure location, accessible from on or off campus: http://www.marshall.edu/ucs/CS/helpdesk/helpdesk-storage.asp
    • Flash Drives/CDs and DVDs that work great as a temporary storage of data and generally not recommended for long term storage.
    • Online Storage – Using a third party online storage services such as SkyDrive, Dropbox and SmugMug is becoming very popular. Before choosing such company read online reviews about their services.
  6. Understand and Respect Copyright. MU Students, faculty and staff are required to follow copyright law and Marshall’s policies and procedures for producing, using and sharing creative or educational works.
    Be aware of the risks involved in using peer to peer (P2P) file sharing technologies. Inappropriate use of P2P technology not only leads to violating copyright law, but also puts your computer at risk of being infected with malware. You can never trust a file downloaded via P2P. In most of the cases you will download a malicious file tagging along with the file you intended to get. Besides having to clean up your computer you may loose your network access, pay a penalty and even face a lawsuit from organizations like Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Educate yourself by vising following links: