Information Technology Services

Cyber Security Article 1

Welcome to Cyber Security Month 2010 at Clark

Welcome to National Cyber Security Awareness Month at Clark University! Our goal is to increase knowledge and awareness about cyber security and some best practices to protect computers, university resources, and your personal identity. National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), conducted every October since 2004, is a national public awareness campaign to encourage everyone to protect their computers and our nation’s critical cyber infrastructure.

Cyber security requires vigilance 365 days-per-year. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC)(the primary drivers of NCSAM), coordinate to shed a brighter light in October on what home users, schools, businesses and governments need to do in order to protect their computers, themselves (family and friends), and data.

No one can guarantee complete safety in cyberspace, but we can take steps to help prevent criminals and identity thieves from stealing our personal information and accessing our computers. We can also minimize our exposure to other internet security risks. The success of National Cyber Security Awareness Month rests on all of us doing what we can do to engage those around us to be safe and secure online not only in October, but year-round.

During the month of October, look for weekly articles with tips on how to stay safe online, keep your computer healthy, and protect your data. Clark University’s Information Technology Services department is committed to helping and educating our students, faculty and staff with staying safe and protecting ourselves as we use our computing resources.

To start our first week of tips, here are three steps to help protect your computer:

Keep Your Computer’s Software Up To Date
At Clark, we require all computers to have an up-to-date operating system software in order to access the Clark Network and Internet. Whereas Microsoft uses Windows Updates to alert you to new updates, ITS remotely “pushes” Microsoft provided updates to all ITS supported Windows computers; you would recognize these updates as part of a yellow-shield displayed in your taskbar or as a prompt to install updates when you shut your computer down. Apple Computer users get their updates from Apple via a System Preference: Software Updates. Generally speaking, Apple and Microsoft roll out updates to their software on a monthly basis if not more frequently which it is why it is important to keep them up to date.

For people with personal computers, whether you use them at home or on campus, it is important for you to set your Windows computer’s Windows Update or Apple Computer’s Software Updates to automatically download and install updates. You will always get prompts from your computer to perform the updates to avoid interrupting what you are working on, as some updates will require you to reboot your computer.

In addition to Apple and Microsoft products, other software manufacturers provide software updates that you will need to also apply. Software such as Adobe’s Acrobat & Flash are upgraded regularly to address security and stability issues and in some cases, the only way to update the software is to look at see how the manufacturer distributes these updates. Adobe builds a “Check for Updates” feature into their software under the “Help” menu where as other manufacturers require you to visit their web site to learn what the newest update is. Ignoring these updates can expose you and your computer to viruses /malware not to mention problems with how the software operates.

Run Antivirus Software and Keep Virus Definitions Up To Date
Install and maintain an Antivirus solution on your computer – Your Clark owned computer comes equipped with the tools you need to stay safe online and that includes McAfee antivirus. At home you should make sure that you have an antivirus client and that it is updated on a weekly basis if not daily. Hackers are continually developing new viruses and malware. Antivirus companies update their antivirus definitions on a daily basis as new threats become available. One of the most important tasks you can do to help protect yourself is to make sure your antivirus program is up-to-date.

Make Sure Your Computer’s Firewall Is On
The firewall software on a computer is designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from another computer or network resource. Microsoft and Apple both provided firewalls as part of their operating systems since Windows XP Service Pack 2 and OS X 10.4 and by running your computer with an active firewall you reduce the odds of a malicious person or software from gaining access to your computer. ITS recommends that you never turn your computer’s firewall off and if you discover that your firewall is off or that you cannot turn it back on, your computer may have been successfully infected by a piece of malware or virus and you should contact the ITS Help Desk right away for assistance.

Clark ITS is committed to helping you. If you have any questions, need help or advice, please let us know.

Clark ITS Help Desk | Clark University - Academic Commons | P: 508-793-7745
Never share your Clark Account Password, ITS will never ask you for this personal information.

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