Protecting you and your computer from the mean and nasties out there...
"It's a rough universe out there. There are all kinds of people who want to do you, rip you off and take advantage of you. In that world you really need to know where your towel is."
Your friendly neighborhood geek squad puts a lot of thought and effort into protecting you and your your computer from all the things out there that mean to do you wrong. So let's look at what we are doing for you, and what you can do for yourself. Basically, our school safety/security system is made up of three 'wares:
Hardware are physical devices that protect you and your computer. Here on campus there are three major peices of hardware:
- Mailfoundry: Mailfoundry protects your incoming e-mail from viruses (viri?) and spam. It is not 100% accurate but still protects you better than nothing, as an example, on an average day, 60% of the email that arrives at the school is spam, virus laden or phishing attempts. 99% of this mail is caught and deleted by the Mailfoundry Box before you ever see it.
- Pix: There is a Firewall that sits between the Internet and the school. This firewall (A Pix appliance by Cisco) makes it very hard for people with less than honourable intentions to get access to our network. While we are not NORAD, there is a lot of information on our network we wish to keep secure
- Netstomper: Netstomper is a device that watches the outside port of our network for outside attack. If someone trys to gain access to our network or attempts to hit us with a denial of service attack, this device can spot and notify us of the attack.
Software are programs that are in place, either on our servers or individual computers that either protect or repair.
- Dragontail: Dragontail is our web proxying system. It has three functions:
1) Monitor the web usage habits of everyone on campus
2) Restrict access to dangerous file downloads
3) Protect children from potentially dangerous or offensive content
- AVG: AVG anti-virus protects your computer from virueses and some forms of malware. While Mailfoundry and protects your e-mail, it does nothing to protect your web surfing and file downloading. And even if they did, they could not protect you when you are not on campus. AVG is your first line of defense against virues and other forms of malware.
- Spybot Search & Destroy: Spybot is a repair program that can find and delete harmful or annoying files/programs. It is not 100% effective but when used in conjunction with other programs, like AVG it is very powerful.
It can not be said strongly enough that you, as the end user, are the single most integral and important part in the whole system. It is by your actions (or lack there of ) that the whole system either works or fails.
Consider the Example:
A man moves into a somewhat less than solubrious neighborhood. He decides to be proactive. He has deadbolts put on all the doors, metal grates on all the windows, and has a state of the art security system installed. He then regularly, and without fail, forgets to lock the door and / or turn on the alarm.
His actions have taken a very well proteced situation and made it a poorly protected one.
So what can you do? Quite a lot actually.
Taking care of your computer
- Run Spybot Saearch & Destroy regularly. This program does not run by itself, you have to run it. It should be run at LEAST once a month, and once a week would not be amiss.
- Make sure your AVG anti-virus is up to date. It *SHOULD* automatically update, but running it manually from time to time is not a bad idea. The new version of AVG also regularly checks your computer for malware.
- Defrag your hard drive regularly. This will not protect you from the mean and nasties, but it will make your computer run smoother and faster, thus improving your mental health if nothing else.
- Backup your files on a regular basis. Even if you do all the above correctly, accidents still happen. Be prepared!
- Excercise good judgement when downloading files.
- When receiving e-mail, if you get a message that you feel is suspect DELETE IT!! It is highly doubtful that the Publishers Clearing House will announce your million dollar check in e-mail. If the mail turns out to be important, the person who sent it can re-send it.
- Don't click on any link in an e-mail that you are not 100% sure about (see above). If you were not expecting an e-mail with a link, or are not 100% sure about the source, DELETE IT!
Taking care of yourself
- Do not respond to e-mails that you were not expecting or from sources you can't identify. If you get an email from Amazon, or Paypal or some other source DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS IN THE E-MAIL. The mail may be genuine, but for safety sake, delete the message and then manually open your web browser and surf over to the vender in question. Log in as you always do and see if there are any waiting messages.
- Do not give out personal information to web surveys and the like. Often times these are attempts to get enough info to attempt to steal your identity.
- Do not use a credit card at an unsecured web site. When you connect to a vendors web site, you will se a small lock appear in the bottom right of your computer screen. This indicates an encryped, and therefore, relitively safe connection. If you don't see the lock. Don't order online. Call the vendor or fax him/her your order, or use anohter vender.
- Do not put excessive personal information on your school website or on personal networking sites like Facebook or Myspace. That information is "public knowledge" and can be used against you by people. Nothing you put on the Internet EVER goes away!
One thing that might be useful is to setup a throw-away e-mail account. Most companies provide you with more than one e-mail address. Right now, Road-Runner gives everyone 5 addresses. Set up one of those addresses as a "throw away". Use this address for whenever you have to provide an address at a website or when you purchase something. Regularly delete the contents of this account. If it gets too infected with spam and the like, cancel the address and set up another one.