User:Erbingha/Safe Computing

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Do's and Don'ts of Safe Computing

  • Do change your Unity account password at least once each semester and keep it secret.
  • Do remember to log out of lab workstations, kiosks, nomadic network connections, online services, etc.
  • Do install an anti-virus program and keep it up-to-date on computers for which you are responsible: Anti-virus software is available free to NC State students faculty and staff for home and campus use.
  • Do scan all downloaded files and email attachments for viruses before opening them.
  • Do make back-up disks of your important files.
  • Do keep security patches up-to-date on your computer. If there is no automatic update feature for your computer's operating system (OS), go to the OS manufacturer's Web site for the latest updates. A weekly check is good.
  • Do be aware of what network services are running from your computer and disable all those not needed. (Your computer may be operating as a Web or file transfer server without your knowing it!) Most OS Help menus include instructions on how to identify and disable unneeded services under keywords "servers" or "services." A weekly check is good.
  • Do keep informed about the latest network security risks, including programs that may enable your computer and the university's network to be used for illegal or commercial purposes. See for example
  • Do read and follow the End User License Agreement for all software that you own or use.
  • Do make wise decisions about who uses your personal computer - you may be held responsible for their actions!
  • Don't write down your password or share your account with anyone.
  • Don't download or distribute copyrighted MP3s or DVD files without the permission of the copyright holder.
  • Don't use copyrighted images for publications or Web sites without the permission of the copyright holder.
  • Don't attempt to gain access to computers or accounts for which you are unauthorized (hacking).
  • Do follow all the NC State Computer and Network Use Regulations and Rules.

Why practice safe computing? The loss or corruption of the data we store on our computers or network file space can cause anything from mild frustration to major disaster. Whether personally or in the work we do, our information is important and valuable to us. The rules have changed in today's world. Information is being transmitted in many ways at extremely high speeds. While networked computers are probably the most efficient and widely used medium for data transmission, they are also among the most vulnerable. To protect our data from harm, we need to practice safe computing. That means taking the appropriate precautions and behaving in ways that protect our data and those we share it with. This brochure will serve as a guide to help you practice safe computing at NC State. Know the risks Viruses such as 'loveletter' are small files that attach to other files or programs. They are usually spread through email attachments and by downloading infected files. Many viruses are little more than annoyances. However, some can destroy your data. Some viruses will send copies of themselves to all of your email contacts, potentially infecting them as well. Trojans are often transmitted in the same ways as viruses. Trojans such as Back Orifice and NetBus can be far more damaging. These trojans are often sent deliberately so that someone can take over a computer. Through a trojan, a hacker can use your computer to break into other computers over the Internet. Because it is the hacked computer that appears to be the attacker, its owner is the person held responsible. Take precautions NC State provides anti-virus software free of charge for all currently enrolled students, faculty and staff. You can download it from It is extremely important that you update your anti-virus software frequently, as new viruses and trojans are being created all the time. You should scan all attachments and downloaded files for viruses before you open them, and never open email attachments that you weren't expecting or that are from someone you don't know. If you are unsure whether an attachment is legitimate, check with the sender before opening it. Current versions of most operating systems provide a way to keep the operating system up-to-date. Make sure you install all security patches and bug fixes made available from the manufacturer. In many cases, you can configure your operating system to automatically alert you when new updates are available. Keep your secrets The first time you log in to your Unity account you should change your password. It is easy to do. Just go to the interactive password change utility at on the Web and follow the simple instructions. Your password should contain at least six characters and should be something you can easily remember but not anything that people might associate with you, such as your name, friend's name, pet's name, your initials or your name backwards. Also do not use birthdays, anniversaries or your login ID. Because passwords are case-sensitive, it's a good idea to use numbers, special characters and a mixture of upper and lowercase letters somewhere in the password to make it more difficult to guess. You may want to create a personal acronym, e.g. "I lived in Alaska for five years" = iliAf5y. You should change your password at least once a semester and always keep it secret. It is against NC State policy to allow someone else to access your account. If you don't change your password or keep it secret, someone else could gain access to your account and erase your work, use all your print quota or send email to thousands of people with your name and email address attached to it. Stay legal! Copyright infringement is against university policy and state and federal law. You are responsible for understanding what constitutes legal use of music, movies, software, images and other copyrighted works that you own or use. The No Electronic Theft (NET) Act of 1997 allows for criminal prosecution of individuals who electronically copy and distribute copyrighted work, even if there is no commercial gain from doing so. This is punishable by up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine, so knowing the law is part of safe computing. Recorded music and DVDs are copyrighted. It is illegal to download, copy, distribute or sell such works except as allowed by the copyright holder. For example, some bands allow free distribution of concert recordings but not of studio-recorded CDs. Distributing the concert recordings is legal, provided it follows the procedures set out by the band. Distributing copies of the studio CDs either through duplication or MP3s is against the law and can be punishable by fine and imprisonment. Violating the End User License Agreement (EULA) which comes with most software is also against the law. EULAs tell the owner, among other things, how many computers the software can be installed on and how many copies can be made. Some software, such as Netscape is freely available, but is still protected by copyright. As in the case of Netscape, it may be illegal to distribute certain freely available software packages.