ICT Security Recommendations and Warnings
This page will attempt to give NMSU computer users information about security and virus problems affecting the internet and NMSU network, as well as, advice on how to set up your Windows based machines to be as secure as possible. For information and advice regarding SPAM, see our SPAM page! For further information or if you need help with something beyond the scope of these pages please contact the NMSU Help Desk at 646-1840 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more in depth information about your specific windows based operating system, we recommend that you check out http://www.microsoft.com/security/
Now, let's begin by discussing the four most important things you can do to keep your computer virus and hacker free. Not only are these good recommendations but they are also part of NMSU's Network Use Policy! Click on the links inside the introductory paragraphs to get more in depth information on each topic.
- Keep your system up to date with all current patches and updates
Microsoft regularly issues patches or updates to solve security problems in their software. The Critical Updates are the ones you should be concerned about. If these are not applied, it leaves your computer vulnerable to hackers. Service Packs are larger updates which upgrade and fix security problems.
- Run an updated virus detection software program
Virus detection software scans your computer for viruses by using files called "virus definitions." Each virus definition enables the antivirus software to recognize and act against a particular virus. To protect your computer against new viruses as they appear, you need to keep your virus definitions and applications current by running its update feature on a regularly scheduled basis. NMSU has negotiated with Sophos Software to obtain Sophos antivirus for free for all NMSU faculty, staff and students using the NMSU network. To download Sophos, go to http://ict.nmsu.edu/software/Users/login.php and click on the link to download the version for your operating system. Norton and McAfee are the two other most popular antivirus scanners for personal computers.
- Use a personal firewall
A firewall is a security system that acts as a protective boundary between a network and the outside world. Before connecting to the NMSU network for the first time, or if reconnecting after a security incident, be sure to install a firewall. Windows XP includes Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) software you can use to restrict what information is communicated between the Internet and your computer. If you are not running Windows XP you can download a free personal firewall product such as the one available from ZoneAlarm.
- Use a good password
Your username and password give you access to everything on your computer. Every time you connect, you must provide the magic word; you must prove you're who you say you are. Should someone else guess or steal your password, he or she can masquerade as you, which means the intruder would then have access to your files, your e-mail, your funds, your personal information, or whatever else may be stored on your system. This intruder will have the power to modify or destroy your files, to send electronic mail in your name, or to subscribe to unwanted services for which you'd have to pay. In short, an insecure password can easily wreak havoc in your life. For a quick test of your passwords strength visit http://www.securitystats.com/tools/password.php.
The following links are also great places to learn more about how to keep your computer healthy.