If your computer is not secure, you are putting both your own work at risk and also that of others at DIT, and you may be in breach of data protection legislation.
Following the steps outlined below will greatly improve the overall security of your information. If you are unsure about what to do, contact the Service Desk on 3123 or firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance on best practice. Also, don’t forget to secure all operating systems on your computer – if you have a Mac that runs Windows, make sure you secure both.
In a hurry? Download our security tips.
We also have an information security booklet which is specifically written for DIT staff and students.
1) Keep your software (Windows/Mac, Office, Adobe) updated
Without up-to-date software, the average unprotected computer connected to the Internet can be compromised in less than a minute. So, the single most important step to securing your computer is making sure you always have all the current updates to key software packages installed. This includes your operating system, web browser, email program, all other applications that connect to the network, and Microsoft Office. Also, don't disable security features on your computer such as blocking macros within Office.
PCs supported by ICT Services are configured to automatically receive security updates.
2) Use updated anti-virus security software
All computers connected to the Internet are continuously being probed and scanned for vulnerabilities that might allow a virus, worm, or hacker to cause damage or to take control of your PC. Anti-virus software will help keep your computer free of malicious applications. You also need to protect yourself against spyware and ransomware, which could gather your personal information or create an opening for more serious threats.
ICT Services provide anti-virus security services for all DIT PCs and Apple Macs. Check for the Symantec Endpoint Protection icon in the system tray (on the bottom-right corner of your screen). If missing, contact the DIT Support Desk on 3123 or email@example.com to get it installed. Also, don’t forget to protect your home computers as well with a reputable product!
3) Don't download software from any website you don't fully trust
Before downloading software of any type, consider the source. Is this a site you should trust? Find a way to confirm the authenticity of the document or application. Get expert advice or google it. Never trust a web page advertisement for free software, especially free anti-spyware software—it is probably spyware itself! Beware of ransomware which will irretrievably encrypt your data unless a ransom is paid. It is DIT practice not to pay a ransom demand.
4) Never respond to SPAM or phishing emails
Neither ICT Services, nor any legitimate company, will never email or ring you for your password or financial details. Don't open attachments that you're not expecting or just don't look right. Even if you recognise a message as SPAM, don't respond to it, as this only informs the sender that they are targeting a live email address.
5) Encrypt confidential data (McAfee disk encryption, Office 2013)
Laptops, mobiles and portable media like USB drives are convenient, but are easily lost or stolen. Use 256-bit encryption software to render sensitive data unreadable by an unauthorized person. ICT Services have made McAfee Endpoint Encryption available for DIT laptops storing personal or confidential data. Also, Office 2013 includes a facility for appropriately strong encryption of documents.
6) Keep your password secure - if in doubt, change it!
Create easy to remember, hard to guess passwords and never share them with other people. Don't use your DIT password for personal activities. If you need to write down passwords keep them in a secure location. When creating a password, use at least 8 characters, including at least three of the following four character types:
- Uppercase letters
- Lowercase letters
- Symbols found on your keyboard, such as blank spaces, or ! * - () : | / ?
7) Keep a clear desk and a clear screen
All confidential paper records must be locked away in filing cabinets or similar at the end of each day. Waste paper containing confidential information must be securely disposed. Computer screens should be sited in such a way that they cannot be viewed by unauthorised persons, and must run a screen saver that will, after 15 minutes of inactivity, automatically lock your screen and require a password to unlock it.
8) Keep your laptop and mobile devices physically secure
Sensitive data stored on devices you take out of your workspace are at particular risk. Never leave your laptop unattended in a public place. Store small devices out of view, preferably in locked drawers, when they aren’t in use.
9) Take regular backups of your data and keep these secure
Do you store important documents on your PC? If so, how often do you make a backup? If the answer is not often enough then take steps to store this information onto a network share that is backed up regularly by ICT Services
For home PCs, make backups to CDs/DVDs or to some external storage device with password protection, and keep your backups safe.
10) Enable security on mobile phones and other mobile devices
You may use a mobile phone (Android or iPhone), or some other mobile device at work. If these are being used to store personal or confidential data, then they must be encrypted. ICT Services have made Microsoft Intune available which not only encrypts your phone, but also lets you remotely delete your data if you suspect it has been lost or stolen. Intune allows you to set a 6-character password for your screen lock with must be entered after a certain period of inactivity, and will erasing your information after someone makes 11 attempts to unlock it using the wrong password.