Home > Publications > Non-Technical > Students and Computer Security

Students and Computer Security

It’s that time of year. Parents and students are gearing up to get back to school, and for today’s students, that includes new computers and laptops. But many of them do not understand the importance of computer security. Students are an easy target for online companies, because they are easily duped into a contract that offers free stuff, music downloads, and money (which could contain viruses or spyware). The best practices listed below aide parents and students in the prevention of password breaches, spam, and viruses from potential hackers. The best practices provided will help students understand what computer security entails and determine if their computer is secure. The list also provides information about setting automatic updates (anti-virus/operating system), creating back up copies of all data, setting up junk e-mail addresses, etc.

Computer Security

  • Computer security starts with passwords. Passwords should be changed periodically, never reused, shared, or saved to a computer/website. They should also have a combination of eight or more characters (upper/lower case, numbers and special characters). Passwords should not include nicknames, birthdates, or anniversaries. Do not use the same password for all of your accounts; never use a word that can be found in any dictionary (domestic or foreign).
  • Automatic Updates: Set anti-virus programs and operating system update settings to automatic updates, because new fast spreading worms and viruses are released every day.
  • Enable the firewall to prevent other people trying to establish a connection with your computer.
  • Set up two e-mail accounts (one for valid e-mail and one specifically for junk mail or other spam).
  • Don’t click on Pop-Up ads, send spam, chain e-mails, or hoaxes (they could contain viruses, spyware, etc).
  • Disconnect the internet cable from the computer when not in use, to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Before using any software (free or purchased) from any source, check it for viruses with a current virus scanner.
  • Always back up data on an alternate media (CD, USB drive, floppy diskette, etc.) that is separate from the computer. This ensures an extra copy of the document exists if the computer crashes
  • If the computer needs to be repaired remove or encrypt personal or sensitive information before allowing it to be repaired / replaced.

Laptop Security

  • Secure a laptop with a cable lock or store it in a locked area or locked drawer when not in use.
  • Never leave a laptop unattended. If lost or stolen, most likely you will never get it back.
  • Always remove your internet air-card when not in use.
  • Secure your internet connection by setting an encrypted password and disable the automatically search for an internet connection feature. This ensures that other people cannot use your internet.
  • Disable the remote connection feature.

Utilizing these best practices, students will make informed decisions and encounter fewer problems with their computer. Students need to realize if a worm infestation or spyware is installed on their computer all of their information could be lost, deleted, changed or even put on the internet for everyone to see. Many people are having their identity stolen because their computer lacks the proper security. It is better to have some security measures in place than none at all.