Security Basics

Smart About Your Password

The best passwords are ones that are difficult to guess. Try using a password that consists of a combination of numbers, letters (both upper case and lower case), punctuation, and special characters. The length of your password should be at least 8 characters long, but the more characters, the better. You should change your password regularly and use a different password for each of your accounts. Don't share your password with others and never reply to "phishing" emails with your password or other sensitive information. You also shouldn't store your password on your computer. If you need to write down your password, store it in a secure, private place.

Phishing Emails (emails asking for personal information)

Legitimate entities will not ask you to provide or verify sensitive information through non-secure means, such as email. If you have reason to believe that your financial institution actually does need personal information from you, pick up the phone and call the company yourself, using the number found on their web site, not the one the email provides.  CGU OIT will never ask you for your password via an email.   For more information on identifying phishing emails, please read this document.

Logging in and logging out of web sites

When logging in at a web site (such as your bank's web page or your email's web page), you should not permit your browser to "remember" your username and password information. If this browser feature is active, anyone using your computer will have access to your personal account information.

Closing or minimizing your browser, or typing in a new web address when you're done using your online account may not be enough to prevent others from gaining access to your account information. Instead, click on the "log out" button to terminate your online session.

Securing your personal computer

Make sure your computer has the latest security patches. Most Windows and Mac computers now automatically update themselves.  However, if your computer is asking you for permission to install updates, you should let it do so, once you have verified that the request is legitimate.  Macs will usually alert you to new updates via the App Store icon (a red number in the corner of the icon) or via a message in the upper right corner of the screen.  Windows computers will usually alert you to new updates via the lower right corner of the screen or, when you click on the "shut down" or "power" button, it says "install updates and shut down" instead of just "shut down".  Requests to update Mac or Windows software do not appear inside a web page.

You should also make sure that your computer's firewall is turned on and that you have a security software package installed (anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-spyware, etc.).  Once installed, the security software package should be allowed to update itself to receive the latest information about the newest security threats.

Be Careful When Clicking on a Link to Download a File

The most common way of infecting your computer with a virus is to click on a link to download a file.  If you receive an email from an unknown person, or if you unexpectedly receive an email from a friend, it is best to not click on the link within the email to download what ever file is being offered to you.  In case of the email from a friend, call or write (do not reply) an email to that friend confirming that the email was from them before clicking on the link to download the file.

Downloading a file or a free program or game from an unknown web site is another way of downloading a virus.  You should always download files and program from well known and trusted web sites.

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