Best Practices

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The Internet was founded on the idea of free information.  This gave rise to the "Information Age".  In the race to deliver valuable content, however, comes a large volume of noise and malicious activity.  Malware, viruses, and security holes are daily concerns in the technology world.  There are ways to avoid most of these things with a few simple strategies.


  • At work, consult with your IT administrator for best security practices on at least a quarterly basis.
  • Use antivirus software.  Yes, even a Mac can get a virus.
  • Use SPAM protection.  Most webmail (i.e. Gmail, Hotmail, etc) has this built-in.
  • Use a firewall at the front of your network.  In an office consult your IT administrator.  At home, you may need to configure this on your router or using software on your computer (consult an IT professional for more assistance).
  • Take great caution when opening (or never open) email from someone that you do not recognize.
  • Never open a file attachment that you are not expecting.
  • Make sure you spell the URL (web address) properly, as some misspelled websites exist for the purpose of fooling you.
  • Do not open emails or links in emails from your bank or online accounts if you are not expecting a message.  If you are unsure, contact them separately from the email (do not hit "Reply") to see if they sent you something.
  • If something online appears to be a scam, it most likely is.  Avoid websites or delete emails that are obvious scams.
  • Never enter your credit card or other financial information on a webpage that starts with "http://...".  Instead, only use secure connections that start with "https://...".
  • Stay current with all operating system (Windows, Mac OS X, etc) and application (Office, web browser, etc) updates.  Updates are often vital to plug security holes, but can also resolve general bugs.
  • Become familiar with the tools that you use the most to best notice when something is out-of-the-ordinary.  Often, malicious websites or emails can mimic the software that you are using to make it appear that, for example, clicking the "Close" or "OK" button will make something go away.  In truth, such false interfaces may lead to dangerous websites or execute a command that you did not intend.
  • Pay attention to office memos/bulletins about security issues.
  • Make regular backups of critical information, and see if your office has a backup policy.
  • Password-protect sensitive information with a non-dictionary term password.  Numbers and symbols can help strengthen passwords.
  • Shut down your computer when it is not in use.  Heat is the enemy of all electronics.  The longer and harder a computer is running, the shorter its life becomes (again, make backups).
  • Keep information organized for easy retrieval and backups.
  • Have your PC cleaned at least every 6 months to avoid dust build-up.  Again, heat kills electronics.
  • If in doubt, consult with an IT professional.


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