Secure Your Devices and Protect Yourselves and Western

If you are working on a University owned desktop, laptop or mobile device, Western’s Academic Technology and User Services professionals are making sure those devices are securely configured and maintained. Many Western community members are now working on personal devices, however, and must be their own IT support. If you are a community member using your own device, Western’s Information Security Office would like to pass on some simple system maintenance ideas to keep you safe. 

  • Patch your operating system. Security flaws are found almost monthly. Most systems can be configured to patch automatically, and this is preferable to trying to remember to run a manual patch process. If your computer is over 10 years old, it is probably not patchable and it is time to retire it. 

  • Patch and update your applications. Like your operating system, your applications can become out of date and vulnerable. 

  • Install malware protection. This is a must-have now. Malware is everywhere, and don’t think you are immune if you are a Mac user. Many ISPs offer free malware protection or whole security suites to their customers, so use them! 

  • Configure a firewall. Your Windows, Mac or Linux computer will have a firewall, but it may not be turned on and configured properly. Make sure it is activated and configured to only allow inbound traffic for particular applications or for connections you initiate. On the topic of firewalls, your home router will also have a firewall, but its default configuration may be off or insecurely configured. 

  • Require a password or pin when powering up. It may be easy to power up and start working without a password or pin, but if your device falls into the wrong hands, it is disastrous. The thief has everything on your device. 

  • Configure an automatic password protected screen lock. If you live with other people, especially children, this is a must-do. Whatever is on your screen is vulnerable to anyone passing by! 

  • Encrypt your device. If you travel with your device, encryption is especially important. For example, it takes about 10 minutes to break into an unencrypted Windows laptop. 

Western’s Information Security Office thanks you for working toward a safer campus during Cybersecurity month! Contact us with your questions.