Know who logs in to your system
Be aware of all of the people who log in to your system and log all of their activities. Take time to carefully plan groups and their permissions. Only grant access rights to users who need to perform their duties.
Use good password practices
Keep your system updated
Apply patches, fixes, and service packs, when available. Keep your systems upgraded to the latest versions of software.
Use antivirus software
McAfee antivirus software is available to Texas A&M students, faculty and staff at no charge. To order the software, select McAfee AntiVirus from software.tamu.edu. The link to download the software will be emailed to your Texas A&M Gmail account, usually within an hour of the request. If you are purchasing additional software, the link will be mailed within an hour of payment for the other software.
AVG is another free Antivirus software option. Learn more about downloading this software in Knowledge Base.
Use your computer's firewall
A firewall blocks hackers, viruses and other potential malicious traffic on the internet. Most computers have a built-in firewall that is designed to protect it from attack. To keep your computer protected, you should make sure your firewall is always turned on. You can check the firewall status of most computers by accessing the Control Panel (or “System Preferences” for iOS users) and checking the security settings.
Eliminate all extra services
Only allow services to run on your machine if you absolutely need them. For example, unless you have a reason to have a web server on your host, do not install or turn one on. Also, remove any demonstration copies of software that came with your operating system. Know what services should be running on your host.
1. Keep your antivirus software and operating system updated.
Stop hitting the “skip” or “remind me later” button when your computer asks to install updates. Updates often fix security issues and optimize certain aspects of your operation system. Because of this, you should install updates as soon as they become available, and check for new updates at least once a month.
2. Delete cookies and temporary files from your internet browser frequently.
Temporary web data slows down internet speeds and often causes other internet problems. Follow these instructions to delete cookies and other temporary files from the following web browsers:
3. Limit the programs that run automatically when you start your computer.
Even if you are not using the programs, having 20+ programs run automatically will slow down your computer. This occurs because the programs are still using resources to run in the background. Learn how to limit startup programs for Windows and Mac computers.
Malware includes everything from adware (how does every website know that I want to buy a My Little Pony electric toothbrush?!), Trojan viruses, worms, spyware and other malicious programs that are often received from downloaded files, such as illegal music, games and software. You should install and update antivirus software (McAfee is free from software.tamu.edu) to block and detect malware on your computer.
Key indicators that your computer might be infected with malware:
- Popup ads even when you don’t have a browser open
- Browser toolbar malfunctions
- Slower-than-normal browser connections
- URLs that redirect
For more information on malware diagnosis and removal, contact Help Desk Central.
The NSA provides configuration guides for operating systems. These are an excellent source of detailed information about protecting specific operating systems.
For Windows 7, the NSA recommends the Microsoft Security Compliance Manager.
Use common sense. Don't leave your laptop unattended. This includes using your backpack (with laptop in it) to "save a table" for lunch or leaving your laptop to go use the restroom in the library or lab.
Keep your laptop out of sight when you're not using it. Don't leave your laptop on the seat of your car.
Be sure your laptop is identifiable. Write down the make, model, and serial number of your laptop, and take a photo of it for insurance purposes.
Erase your hard drive before discarding your computer. Even though deleting files in your file manager prevents you from seeing them, the data remains on your hard drive. Commonly available forensic tools can easily gain access to this data.
For personal hard drives, you can gain an extra level of protection by "zeroing out" your data. Apple computers provide a tool for this. For Windows users, DBAN is a free, though slightly complex, software for this purpose. (Tip: Make sure you create a bootable CD when using DBAN)
For Texas A&M hard drives, Surplus Property provides a hard drive shredding service. See the Property Transfer Procedures for additional information.