Computer Security Basics

There are some vital security issues that every computer user needs to be aware of. For more information about computing security, consult the iCIT security site.

Passwords. When you choose a password, it is very important to make it as secure as possible by using a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters, and to include numbers and punctuation in the password. Do not ever share your password with anybody! If you need to share your password with someone who is helping you to fix something on your computer, you should immediately change your password afterwards. You can change your password online at the Net-ID Password Change Self-Service site. In general, it's a good idea to change your password at least once every three months.

Windows Update. In addition to using anti-virus software on your computer, you also need to use the Windows Update service to patch any security holes in the Windows operating system. To use Windows Update, just go to http://windows update.microsoft.com and follow the instructions there. There are some computer viruses that spread through the network directly, bypassing email, and the only way to protect yourself against these network viruses is to make sure that you have installed all the latest security patches for your Windows operating system.

Spyware. Sometimes when you download and install computer programs from the Internet, there are small programs called "spyware" or "adware" which are installed without your knowing it. These programs collect information about your computer usage and send that information to a remote location. This can represent a serious violation of your computer security and it can also impair your computer's performance. You can use Lavasoft Ad-Aware or SpyBot to remove these programs from your computer.