Top 10 Safe Computing Tips
Use the checklist below to ensure your computer and data are secure. Instructions for these tips
can be found via this web site: http://ist.mit.edu/security/support/tips.
Patch your software and operating system: Set up your computer for automatic updates.
An unpatched machine is more likely to have software vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
Install anti-virus software: McAfee VirusScan is available as a free download for Windows,
Macintosh and Linux from IS&T’s software page. When installed, the software should be set
to scan your files and update your virus definitions regularly.
Choose strong passwords: Use letters, numbers, and special characters to create a
mental image or an acronym that is easy for you to remember. Create different passwords
for important accounts.
Back up your files: This can protect you from the unexpected. Keep a few months’ worth of
backups and make sure the files can be retrieved if needed.
Control access to your machine: Don’t leave your computer unattended or logged on in an
unsecured area, including your office, dorm, or a public space.
Use email and the Internet safely: Ignore unsolicited emails, and be wary of attachments,
links and forms in emails that come from people you don’t know, or which seem “phishy.”
Avoid untrustworthy (often free) downloads from freeware or shareware sites.
Use secure connections: When connected to the Internet, your data can be vulnerable
while in transit. Use secure file transfer or VPN options when off campus.
Protect sensitive data: Reduce the risk of identity theft. Securely remove sensitive data
files from your hard drive, which is also recommended when recycling or repurposing your
computer. You can use the encryption tools built into your operating system to protect
sensitive files you need to retain.
Enable desktop firewalls: These are part of a computer’s operating system. When set up
properly, firewalls protect your computer files from being scanned.
Most importantly, stay informed: Stay current with the latest developments for Windows,
Macintosh, Linux and Unix systems. The IS&T News web page regularly covers security
updates and the Security FYI electronic newsletter is available through subscription.