- 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 the latest version from here.
Keeping both your antivirus software and its definitions updated is very important. Out-of-date or expired antivirus software cannot protect your computer against current malware threats. Scan your computer for viruses regularly.
Malwarebytes is also a very effective malware scanner. A free version is available for personal use at: http://malwarebytes.org/
- Use strong passwords. Creating a secure password is not as hard as it may seem. Good passwords should not be easily guessed and should not include personal information, any part of your name, relative’s, or pet’s names, Social Security number, birthday, or 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. Passphrases 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 the 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.
- Change your MUNet Password. Your MUNet password 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 MUNet password, log on to any university computer, click Ctrl+Alt+Del, and select “Change a password.”
- Update and patch regularly. Unpatched and outdated applications are the primary target for malware infection. Download updates and patches for operating systems and other software as soon as they become available. Programs like Adobe PDF Reader, Adobe Flash, Java, QuickTime and Microsoft Office apps are frequently targeted.
Manually checking for updates for each of these applications can be quite a task. Luckily this task can be simplified. To see if your computer is at risk, you can download and run the free Secunia Online Software Inspector (PSI) scanner which will not only scan for vulnerabilities in approximately 100 well-known apps, but will also give you direct links to update older and vulnerable programs. Click here to learn more about Secunia scanners.
- 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, etc. Be sure that you have a back up copy of your electronic files, digital photographs, e-mail correspondences 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. For external backup drive recommendations, click here.
- Flash Drives/CDs and DVDs work great as a temporary storage of data but generally not recommended for long term storage.
- Online Storage – Using a third party online storage services such as SkyDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive is becoming very popular. Before choosing such company, read online reviews about their services.
- 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 obtain. Besides having to clean up your computer, you may lose 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: