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Protecting Your Data and Identity

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Maintain Awareness

The most effective way to keep you and your data safe is to maintain the utmost awareness of your internet environment. Read everything closely to verify that information (emails, warning messages, etc) you receive is valid and correct, even if seems to be from your family and friends. If you are ever unsure, run a Google search and/or call the Help Desk.

Prevent Identity Theft

Avoid storing sensitive information (i.e. credit card, bank account, social security, or drivers license numbers) on your computer. Periodically clean your web browser caches. Never provide information to an untrusted website. Look for the https in the URL bar indicating that your web session is encrypted. Finally, do not click on links received via email - instead, copy and paste the website address in to the URL bar.

Guard Your Privacy

Avoid disclosing any information that is not necessary for any given transaction. If you aren't comfortable providing something, ask questions (why it is necessary, how it will be used, whether you can see it and correct errors, how it will be protected, etc). Share with care on social networking sites, and limit access to people that you know.

Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords have these characteristics:

  • Longer than 7 characters
  • Not based on a dictionary word
  • Contain at least one letter, and at least one non-alphanumeric character
  • Not similar to your name, your username, or other passwords
  • Do not contain too many consecutive keyboard keys
  • Contain at least five unique characters

Use Antivirus Software

If you have a PC, be sure to download Symantec Endpoint Protection for free. Because of the rarity of Mac viruses, Mac antivirus software is not necessary or recommended.

Back Up Your Data

Find out more information about backing up your data!

Download and Share Safely

Double check that what you are downloading is safe (i.e. run a Google search beforehand). Be wary of file sharing websites (Limewire, KaZaA, BitTorrent, etc), as they may carry viruses. Many common peer-to-peer programs are designed to be difficult disabling or uninstalling. The University of Chicago provides a good resource for regaining control of your computer in such a case. If you find that your computer still has viruses after regaining control, try downloading and running Malwarebytes. If that does not fix the problem, contact the Help Desk. Please remember that sharing or downloading copyrighted material is illegal!

Stay Up To Date

Make sure to keep your computer updated. This is best achieved by enabling automatic updates. Also, be sure you are no longer using Internet Explorer, as it has a history of serious security problems. Stick with a different browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Finally, make sure you uninstall software on your computer that you no longer use.