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UAlbany Offers Tips for Back-to-School Computer Security

Contact: Michael Parker (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 13, 2004) - As students move back into their dorm rooms, it's the computer that gets hooked up before the television, the stereo or the refrigerator. Priorities aside, colleges face increasing threats to information technology security. The University at Albany's office of systems management & operations and residential network (ResNet) offer several common-sense methods for students to protect their computers from hackers, viruses and worms designed to devour hard drives.

  • Turn off your computer when not in use. The strongest protection you can provide for your PC is to turn it off when you’re not using it. Leaving your computer on when you’re away is like leaving your keys in your car with the engine running. Remember, the way out is a way in. If you have a pathway to the Internet, the Internet has a pathway into your computer.

  • Use anti-virus software. The mail systems at UAlbany scan for viruses before delivering mail. But there are many other ways for viruses and worms to reach your computer. When properly set up, anti-virus software will automatically update its virus database, providing you with the most current protection against malicious code.

  • Use complex passwords on all system accounts. Windows systems come with at least two standard accounts that are universally known, the Administrator account, and the Guest account. If you do not have strong, complex passwords set for these default accounts, anyone can gain entry into your PC and all its files, information, and applications. What’s more, if they log in using the Administrator (or Admin) account, they can write their own files and applications to your disk, and delete yours.

  • Back up your computer regularly. Murphy's Law, due diligence, and acknowledging that anything that spins at 7,000 rpm 24 hours a day, seven days a week will break down- sooner or later.

  • Don't open e-mail or click internet links from unknown sources. While UAlbany monitors mail attachments and file extensions to weed out files that might cause damage, code writers like rising to the challenge. There are numerous ways for mail to cause damage, especially if you view richly formatted mail messages. Think about setting up your mail client in read-only text mode, and delete, before reading, any mail sent to you by an unknown source.

For more information, visit UAlbany residential network at http://resnet.albany.edu/security/SixSteps.html.

 


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