By Anne Butman

Protecting Your Computer

Anyone who has been at work during a power failure knows the integral nature of your computer to your work. When your computer isn't working, essentially, you aren't working. While there are scenarios over which we have no control for example, power or network failures, fortunately they are the rare exception. There are a few things that users can do to ensure optimum performance on their machines and in doing so protect themselves from malware-viruses, spyware, etc. and the possibility of loss of personal information as the result of social engineering-which by the way is simply techno-babble for peeping. The following is a list of how you can accomplish this.

Virus Protection Software

When machines are installed for staff in the libraries they are installed with Trend Micro's OfficeScan Client software. The software is setup to pull the latest available updates when the machine is started for the day, or as they become available throughout the day and run a full scan daily at 11:00. This is why your hard drives sometimes seem to be "churning" for a while after booting or between the hours of 11:00 and 2:00. While it may be inconvenient to users with older machines to experience the degradation in file access time or Internet response time that is the result of the scanning and updating, viruses present the largest threat to computers and maintaining your virus protection software is the easiest and one of the most important ways to keep your machine running optimally.

OfficeScan is also setup to scan files "on-access". That is to say, when you click a file to open it, the software runs a quick scan on it to check the integrity of the file to ensure that will not compromise your computer. Similarly, for good measure you can also right click a file before opening it and chose the Scan with OfficeScan Client option. OfficeScan will run a scan on the file or directory and report back if it finds anything.

Use only software that is supported on your machine. If you believe a virus has affected your system contact your pc coordinator immediately and turn your computer off until it can be determined that it has not been compromised.

Windows Updates

The libraries staff machines are set to download windows updates automatically from a server in the Systems office. This is another way that your machines are maintained to achieve the highest level of reliability possible. When updates are available, in the task tray on your desktop-near the time in the lower right hand portion of your screen, you will see a small Windows update icon that looks like the icon at the top of this section. Simply click the icon and choose to install the updates. Depending on the updates your machine may need rebooting. If this is the case, once the update has been installed you will be given the option to reboot at that point or reboot at a more convenient time. Please be sure to reboot within an hour of downloading the updates


The easiest and most frequent way that a machine is exposed to and compromised by a virus is through email. The libraries staff user accounts are setup to use the IMAP mail protocol. This is a first line of defense because not only are messages scanned by virus protection software on the rci mail server but also, by using IMAP you are really just viewing your messages. Unless you download a message to a local folder on your computer your hard drive is not accessed. Attachments however are downloaded and so it is good practice to scan a message before opening it.

Some good rules of thumb regarding virus protection are and attachments are:

Securing Your Workstation and Data

Over the course of the day many of us are called away from our workstation. One way to ensure confidentiality is maintained and that nothing happens to your files is enabling a screensaver password. Before doing this please check with your supervisor or department head to be sure that this would not cause any inconvenience. To enable a screensaver password:

When creating any password, be it for your workstation, the libraries servers, email, etc. always make it a minimum of 6-8 alphanumeric characters and do not use proper names. Passwords constructed of less 6-8 alphanumeric characters or personal names are not truly secure.

With greater frequency than ever we find ourselves creating and updating documentation. After spending time refining documents the last thing you want to do is lose them or leave them in a place were they could be altered for some reason. While common accessibility is a must in today's working environment. By making frequent backups of your documents you can rest assured that your data is accessible and accurate. Some more tips for keeping your documents safe are:

File Sharing

Windows file sharing (peer to peer connecting or P2P) is not permitted on the libraries networks. Because P2P essentially opens up your machine to others this is a common way for hackers to deposit malware and viruses onto your system and illegally use university bandwidth or worse, infect the machines of others. If you need to share files it should be done via the Windows network, sftp, ftp, email, etc. If you are unable to access files from any of the common drives on the libraries servers or have trouble with attachments or transferring files using sftp contact your pc coordinator or the Systems department for assistance.

Last updated: January 12, 2005 (akb 09/04); October 19, 2006; April 10, 2009
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