Cyber Safety is a common term used to describe a set of practices, measures and/or actions you can take to protect personal information and your computer from attacks.
Common cyber safety threats and the problems they can cause:
- Viruses: Infect computers through email attachments and file sharing. They delete files, attack other computers, and make your computer run slowly. One infected computer can cause problems for all computers on a network.
- Hackers: Are people who “trespass” into your computer from a remote location. They may use your computer to send spam or viruses, host a Web site, or do other activities that cause computer malfunctions.
- Identity thieves: Are people who obtain unauthorized access to your personal information, such as Social Security and financial account numbers. They then use this information to commit crimes such as fraud or theft.
- Spyware: Is software that “piggybacks” on programs you download, gathers information about your online habits, and transmits personal information without your knowledge. It may also cause a wide range of other computer malfunctions.
Install OS/Software Updates:
- Updates-sometimes called patches-fix problems with your operating system (OS) (e.g., Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X) and software programs (e.g., Microsoft Office applications).
- Most new operating systems are set to download updates by default. After updates are downloaded, you will be asked to install them. Click yes!
Run Anti-virus Software
- To avoid computer problems caused by viruses, install and run an anti-virus program like Sophos.
- Periodically, check to see if your anti-virus is up to date by opening your anti-virus program and checking the Last updated.
- Anti-virus software removes viruses, quarantines and repairs infected files, and can help prevent future viruses.
Prevent Identity Theft
- Don’t give out financial account numbers, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers or other personal identity information unless you know exactly who’s receiving it. Protect others people’s information as you would your own.
- Never send personal or confidential information via email or instant messages as these can be easily intercepted.
- Beware of phishing scams – a form of fraud that uses email messages that appear to be from a reputable business (often a financial institution) in an attempt to gain personal or account information. These often do not include a personal salutation. Never enter personal information into an online form you accessed via a link in an email you were not expecting. Legitimate businesses will not ask for personal information online.
Turn on Personal Firewalls
- Check your computer’s security settings for a built-in personal firewall. If you have one, turn it on. Microsoft Vista and Mac OSX have built-in firewalls.
- Firewalls act as protective barriers between computers and the internet.
- Hackers search the Internet by sending out pings (calls) to random computers and wait for responses. Firewalls prevent your computer from responding to these calls.
- Spyware and adware take up memory and can slow down your computer or cause other problems.
- Use Spybot and Ad-Aware to remove spyware/adware from your computer. UC Davis students, faculty and staff can get Spybot and Ad-Aware for free on the Internet Tools CD (available from IT Express in Shields Library).
- Watch for allusions to spyware and adware in user agreements before installing free software programs.
- Be wary of invitations to download software from unknown internet sources.
- Do not share your passwords, and always make new passwords difficult to guess by avoiding dictionary words, and mixing letters, numbers and punctuation.
- Do not use one of these common passwords or any variation of them: qwerty1, abc123, letmein, password1, iloveyou1, (yourname1), baseball1.
- Change your passwords periodically.
- When choosing a password:
- Mix upper and lower case letters.
- Use a minimum of 8 characters.
- Use mnemonics to help you remember a difficult password.
- Store passwords in a safe place. Consider using an encrypted USB drive to store passwords. Avoid keeping passwords on a Post-it under your keyboard, on your monitor or in a drawer near your computer!
Back up Important Files
- Reduce your risk of losing important files to a virus, computer crash, theft or disaster by creating back-up copies.
- Keep your critical files in one place on your computer’s hard drive so you can easily create a backup copy.
- Save copies of your important documents and files to a CD, online backup service, flash or USB drive, or a server.
- Store your back-up media in a secure place away from your computer, in case of fire or theft.
- Test your back up media periodically to make sure the files are accessible and readable.
For further information read: Five Major Cyber Security Threats & How to Tackle Them