Protecting Your Computer and Your Identity
In these days of internet scams, you need to protect your computer and your identity. Here are some suggestions:
Securing Your Password
Securing Your Personal Belongings
Safe Computing Practices
Software Patches & Updates
Computer Viruses and Worms
Avoiding Phishing Scams and Protecting Your Identity
What To Do if You've Been Hacked or Infected
Your Harding username and ipassword give you access to many IT resources at Harding. We encourage you to change it regularly at password.harding.edu. Harding has some guidelines about the password you choose.
- It must be at least 8 characters in length.
- You should make it even more secure by using upper and lower case letters, and one or more numbers.These guidelines are appropriate for all electronic passwords, not just your Harding password.
- Easy-to-guess, "weak" passwords are the main way hackers gain access to system information. Keeping your passwords safe and hard to guess is critical to ensure that your identity isn't stolen.
- Choose a password that is easy for you to remember but hard for someone else to figure out.
- You should never share your password with anyone. If you do, you are giving them permission to access many things that are personal to you and also giving them permission to do many things as if they were you, some of which could have very negative consequences.
You need to be aware of your more tangible assets, as well. Don't leave your personal belongings unattended. Your purse, wallet, phone, laptop, tablet, mail, etc., all contain personal information that can be exploited at your expense.
- Keep these items on your person at all times while you are in public.
- Shred documents that could be used to steal your identity, such as credit card offers.
- Don't leave mail in an unsecure mailbox - post bills and other financial or sensitive documents in a secure US Post Office box.
Don't send personal or financial information (social security number, credit card numbers) via email. Typically, email systems are not encrypted, meaning they aren't secure. It's a good habit to avoid sending any private information via email.
Don't send personal or financial information over unsecured websites. A website is (reasonably) secure if the url begins with https:// and if there is a locked padlock in the bottom right corner of the browser window. This means the data is encrypted when you send it until it reaches its destination.
You should also log out of your workstation's operating system when you leave, even for a few moments. Having a secure and hard to guess password is useless if a hacker can access your account because it is unattended.
Use a password-protected screen saver. You can choose the period of time lapse before your screen saver starts. Five minutes is a good choice.
Back up your data. If you have important files stored on your computer, copy them onto a removable disc, and store them in a safe place. M: Drive information is backed up nightly, so that is a good alternative as well.
Hackers rely on the fact that many computer users fail to install software patches on their machines and create worms and viruses to exploit unpatched systems. Most software vendors, including Microsoft and Apple, offer updates to correct program flaws that malicious programs use to attack your computer. Running anti-virus software is not enough. You can configure your computer to automatically seek out updates.
We all know the damage that computer viruses can do. Run good virus scanning software upon starting up your machine. Keep it updated.
Beware of fraudulent emails and web sites that masquerade as messages from familiar institutions. By tricking you into disclosing your Social Security Number, PIN number, a password, or an account number, identity thieves can drain your bank account or run up bills on your credit card.
The best ways to avoid becoming a victim are:
- Never disclose personal information in response to an unsolicited email. No reputable organization is going to solicit such information with an email. This means your bank, EBay, PayPal and any other reputable business.
- Never click on the link in the email. Instead, if you wish to pursue the information in an email, access the Web site by manually typing in the Web address in a browser.
For more information on such scams, see the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Site.
Staff or Faculty: Disconnect your computer from the network, but do not unplug your machine. Contact the Help Desk at ext. 4440 as soon as possible.
Students connected to the Campus Network: Disconnect your computer from the network, but do not unplug your machine. Contact the DormNet Help Desk at (501)279-4545.