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Staying Safe Online

Staying Safe Online

Here are some ways to keep your computer safe:

We strive to provide a safe and secure network for all of our residents, students, faculty members, and staff members; but it is up to all of us to keep it that way.

Information Services runs automated scans to monitor the behavior of the network, including traffic patterns associated with malware. Computers that are known to be infected with malware are quarantined from the network until ResNet can confirm that the virus is gone. This is to protect you as well as our network. 

Many modern viruses are written to steal login information for financial institutions and any other personal information that can be found. In order to avoid being quarantined and/or robbed due to malware, we ask that students do their part to help prevent the spread of malicious content.

For more information, see our Acceptable Use Policy.

Safe Browsing Tools

Link Scanner-Safe Searching 

When conducting a web search on Google or other search engines, it can be tough to tell which sites are legitimate and which sites are malicious.

Link scanners are programs, usually web browser add-ons, that can help you better sort out the good from the bad. After installing a link scanner, individual search results will have a green, yellow, or red icon next to them.

  • Green sites are safe.
  • Yellow sites are suspicious (possibly bad).
  • Red sites are known to be unsafe.

Web of Trust (WOT) by mywot is considered industry standard for link scanners. The other link scanners such as AVG, McAfee, and Norton fall short in features, updates, and ease of use. Since WOT is community run, it will constantly be updated to reflect the ever changing scape of the internet. While WOT is a very useful tool for people who are not as familiar with the internet, and should be used accordingly, the best way to avoid unsavory links is to analyze the url before clicking on anything you aren’t 100 percent sure of and to never install anything that is force downloaded from any site.

Ad-Free Browsing

Ads are everywhere on the internet. Not only are they annoying and distracting but they are often dangerous. An otherwise safe, well known website might host an infected ad without knowing it.  Simply by visiting that website and clicking on that ad, you could be infected with a virus. 

While many people still consider Adblock or Adblock plus to be the pinnacle of adblock extensions/software, they have started selling the ability to allow ads through to your computer. uBlock Origin offers the same features as Adblock/Adblock Plus with the added benefit of being Open Source. This means that the coding that goes into the program is transparent and kept in check by the community as whole. uBlock is currently the standard for a secure and adless web browsing experience. Note that Safari does not have support for uBlock Origin. While mainline uBlock is available and still a good option there is the possibility that it could go the same route that Adblock/Adblock Plus did in their quest to monetize. 

Keeping Your Programs Up To Date

Computer and software updates are the key to keeping your computer in top form for the defense against the ever evolving face of malicious attacks. Mainstream operating systems and software are constantly finding exploits in their built-in security and will release patches to try and keep ahead of the next, best exploit. Below are directions on how to access updates for Windows and Mac and also a discussion of Secunia PSI.

Apple

Apple Support

This should be automatic as of Mac OSX 10.5

  1. From the Apple menu, choose Software Update.
  2. Software Update checks for available updates. In the Software Update window, select the items you want to install, then click Install. Usually, you should install all available updates.
  3. Enter an administrator account name and password.
  4. After installation is complete, restart the computer if required.

Apple Software Update does not update non-Apple programs. There is no easy way to do this on Macs yet, so you need to make sure each program is updated individually. Important programs to update are Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, Java, and all web browsers like Firefox or Google Chrome.

Windows

Windows updates are automatic by default. If you've disabled this feature, or you know you've been ignoring these updates, go to Start >> All Programs >> Windows Update or Microsoft Update (or typing "update" in the Start menu search bar). ResNet recommends getting Microsoft Update as it updates Office and other Microsoft programs as well as Windows.

Secunia PSI (PC Only)

Secunia PSI Support

Secunia PSI scans nearly every program on your computer, tells you if anything is out of date, and gives you a link directly to the newest version. It will even try to update some programs automatically, including Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, Java, and most browsers. Secunia is a very useful tool, however it is not recommended for old laptops and for people using memory-intensive programs because it constantly checks the status of your programs and can slow down your machine.

Antivirus and Current Scans

Antivirus programs find threats which are already on your computer. All preventative measures eventually fail, so antivirus software with an active real-time scanner is essential. There are both free and paid subscription options available.

The University of Oregon has a site license for MacAfee Endpoint, which enrolled students may use for free. The most recommended antivirus in terms of price (free), features, and obtrusiveness is Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), also know as Windows Avenger. MSE is standard on all Windows operating systems after Windows 8, but on Windows 7 machines and older it has many features that make it a preference. It is constantly kept up to date and compatible with your operating system, making it one of the most secure real-time protectors on the market. MSE is also extremely minimalist and unobtrusive; it sits in the task bar and never alerts you (unless you want it to) to its presence, while still providing cutting edge protection and scan capabilities. Download MSE at windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security-essentials-download