Useful and Helpful Computing Tips
It is essential to protect your computer with safe computing practise which involves a combination of how one can physically or technically project the computer by utilising software and security settings and the actions undertaken. If one uses strong passwords but tends to leave the computer unlocked and unattended, then their data could be at risk and if anti-virus software is used but are not careful about suspicious emails, one would still be at risk of spreading virus.
To set the computer for automatic software together with operating system updates, an unpatched machine would be more likely to have software vulnerabilities which can be exploited. Not applying patch would leave the computer open for malware attacks which could exploit the system to carry on their task and the time frame between the exploit and when patch is released tends to get shorter. Defects
such as web browsers, image viewers, email programs, instant messaging software together with media player could enable malicious email messages, IM messages, websites, images and sound files to infect the computer without any action of the part of the user rather than viewing or listening to the website, media or message.
Installation of protective software,which when installed can scan files as well as update the virus definition regularly. Sophos Anti-Virus software is available as a free download for Windows, Linux from IS&T software page. It is virus protection software that has been recommended by MIT that helps to detect and clean up viruses, worms and spyware, Trojans together with adware and other unwanted applications. It provides virus definitions with regular software updates whenever connected to the internet and the need of being on the campus to receive theses updates is not essential.
Use of strong passwords together with letters, numbers as well as special characters should be used to create mental image or acronym which would be easy to remember. It is also essential to create different password for every important account which should be changed on a regular basis. Passwords enable access to IT sources like bank account, email, computer or server on network which are designed to limit access to individuals authorized to use it. Thus it helps to protect the privacy as well as the identity of the user and the strength or the quality of the password is very important. If it is stolen or guessed, other could log in under false identity which could cause problems with access to all private details of the users.
Backup of machine regularly could help to protect it from unexpected issues wherein keeping a few backup would ensure that files can be retrieved when the need arises. Data is an important aspect of the computer. While the operating system and the applications can be reinstalled it could be difficult or even impossible to recreate any original and important data and hence the need for backup. An attacker could crash the operating system of the computer or the data may tend to get corrupted or wiped out due to any hardware problem and in such cases the backup could be very beneficial.
Control access to machine is highly important and should not be left unattended or logged in especially in public areas since the physical security of the machine is equally important as its technical security.
Secure disposal at the time of disposing or recycling old workstation, external drive or mobile phone, user should ensure that no important data tends to remain on the flash card or the drive which could get into the hands of others and used for their own means. Malware attacks usually takes place through combination of spam and compromised web pages where interacting with spam could put the user’s personal information at risk as well as download the virus to the machine which could spread to other computers through the network. Spam Quarantine tends to catch on most of the spam, deleting them after a period of two weeks. The spam quarantine summary sends a summary of email identified as spam sent to the inbox daily while `bad senders’ list prevents spammers by adding email address or domain to a list and `good senders list sends through `good’ email through the mail.
Use desktop firewalls – As part of operating systems, Macintosh and Windows computers have basic desktop firewalls and when set accurately, they tend to protect the computer files from getting scanned. A personal firewall could prevent unauthorized access to the files on the computer through shared services by preventing unsolicited communication wherein through the intrusion detection it enables a connection which is terminated or blocked whenever it suspects an intrusion. Some viruses could get into the computer through open firewall.
Staying informed is very important and awareness on the latest developments for Windows, Macintosh Linus and Unix systems should be considered. Those interested could subscribe to the IS&T security for electronic newsletter and further detailed briefings.