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Safe Computer Practices

For resident students who have a computer and connect to DolphiNet in the dorms, we’d like to point out a few guidelines that will ensure a safe and productive computing experience.

Passwords
It is extremely important to create passwords for access to your computer. The password should be something that can not be easily identified.  Using your birthday or name is simply too easy to guess and can lead to unauthorized access to your computer. A good password consists of one containing a least six characters, and using a combination of letters and numbers. 


To ensure the security of the information on your computer, please do not provide your passwords to anyone.


Windows Updates
Make sure your software is up-to-date. The single most important task to ensure that your computer stays healthy is to apply patches and updates in a timely fashion. Updates to the Windows Operating System can easily be applied by visiting The Microsoft Windows Update website. All Critical Updates should be applied as soon as possible. To automate this task, see the section labeled “Automatic Updates” on the website described above.


Anti-Virus Software
Make sure you are running Antivirus software and your Antivirus Softare is up-to-date. Antivirus software prevents viruses from infecting your computer by constantly monitoring for virus attacks.
However, this protection is only effective when:

  • your operating system is patched with the latest updates as described above
  • your antivirus software has the latest virus definitions – they normally come out weekly.

Most commercial antivirus software packages provide a “live update” feature to keep your virus definitions current. The latest virus definitions will ensure that your antivirus software can protect you from the newest viruses. Although a commercial Antivirus software package (such as Norton or McAfee) is recommended, below are some FREE antivirus resources (make sure that you update your files manually if needed):

If you are unable to download or install an antivirus program, the following web
resources will help you clean your PC until you can download and install an antivirus program listed above:


Free virus removal tools may be downloaded from SARC. You can use the the search field to remove known viruses and worms. For the latest virus alerts please go to the Symantec Virus Alerts Page. This is a Norton website which provides users with up-to-date virus information.

If your computer can not connect to the Internet, you may want to use our computer labs to download the files and put them on a USB flash drive or CD. 


Spyware Removal Tools
Install and Run Spyware removal tools on a regular basis. There are many FREE spyware removal tools available for download that get rid of popups and general annoyances when connected to the Internet. In addition, proactive software such as pop-up blockers and add-ins are separately available. Below is a list of recommended free pop-up blockers and spyware scanners / removal tools:

Personal Firewalls
A personal firewall is designed to block traffic entering your computer from untrusted or unexpected sources. If viruses/worms can’t get to your computer, they can’t infect it. Please refer to this Microsoft security page for comprehensive personal firewall information and other security recommendations.

Following these guidelines will not only provide a safe and reliable computing experience, but will ensure that bandwidth resources on DolphiNet are most efficiently utilized by eliminating unnecessary virus related traffic.


Please note that installing Windows Service Pack 2 will install a real-time firewall. It is recommended that all Windows XP computers have this Service Pack installed.