10 Safety Tips

Use cryptic passwords that can't be easily guessed, and protect your passwords.

Don't share your passwords and avoid writing them down.

Characteristics of good, cryptic passwords:
  • Contain a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols
  • At least 8 characters in length (or longer if they're less complex)
  • Difficult to guess (e.g. don't include real words or personal information like user name, names of family members, places, pets, birthdays, addresses, hobbies, etc.)
  • Easy to remember (so you don't have to write them down)
  • Password protect all of your devices

Beware of Scams

Don't respond to email, instant messages (IM), texts, phone calls, etc., asking you for your password. You should never disclose your password to anyone
Malicious links can infect your computer or take you to web pages designed to steal your information. Only click on links from trusted sources. Never click on an unfamiliar link unless you have a way to independently verify that it is safe. This includes tiny URLs and any link where you can't tell where it will take you
Malicious attachments can infect your computer. Don't open unsolicited or unexpected attachments. If you can't verify an attachment is legitimate, delete it
Don't give private information to anyone you don't know or who doesn't have a legitimate need for it -- in person, over the phone, via e-mail, IM, text, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Protect information when using the Internet and email

Only use trusted, secure web pages when entering personal or sensitive information online. Don't log in to web sites or online applications unless the login page is secure. Look for https (not http) in the URL to indicate that there is a secure connection
Be especially careful about what you do over wireless. Information and passwords sent via standard, unencrypted wireless are especially easy for hackers to intercept (most public access wireless is unencrypted)
Check your wireless preferences/settings to make sure your devices aren't set up to auto-connect to any wireless network they detect. Auto-connecting to unknown networks could put your device and data at risk
Don't send restricted data via email, text or instant message (IM). These are not generally secure methods of communication.
Be extremely careful with filesharing software. Filesharing opens your computer to the risk of malicious files and attackers.

Make sure your computer is protected

With anti-virus and all necessary security "patches" and updates, and that you know what you need to do, if anything, to keep them current
Shut down or restart your computer at least weekly -- and whenever your programs tell you to in order to install updates. This helps to make sure software and security updates are properly installed
Talk to your computer support person at Comwest Digital Computer Services for assistance.

Secure laptop computers and mobile devices at all times

Lock them up or carry them with you. In your office or dorm room, at coffee shops, meetings, conferences, etc.
Remember: Phones and laptops get stolen from cars, houses, and offices all the time
Make sure it is locked to or in something permanent

Shut down, lock, log off, or put your computer and other devices to sleep before leaving them unattended, and make sure they require a secure password to start up or wake-up

<ctrl><alt><delete> or <Windows><L> on a PC; Apple menu or power button on a Mac.
Also set your computer and portable devices to automatically lock when they're not being used

Protect information on portable and mobile devices

Don't keep sensitive information or your only copy of critical data, projects, files, etc. on portable or mobile devices (such as laptop computers, tablets, phones, memory sticks, CDs/DVDs, etc.) unless they are properly protected. These items are extra vulnerable to theft or loss
Delete sensitive information whenever you can. Keep it off of your workstation, laptop computer, and other electronic devices if at all possible

Don't install or download unknown or unsolicited programs/apps to your computer, phone, or other devices

These can harbor behind-the-scenes viruses or open a "back door" giving others access to your devices without your knowledge

Make backup copies of files or data you are not willing to lose - and store the copies very securely

Remove applications you never use. Uninstall or delete them