4 Steps to Securing Your Computer


Step 1 – Keep your system patched and up to date.

New security bugs are discovered every day. In order to keep your system secure it is critical that it be kept up to date with recent patches and software upgrades. By applying these patches regularly, you reduce the chances of getting a virus, trojan, or worm as most of these exploit common known security holes in unpatched systems.

Step 2 – Use Antivirus Software

Antivirus will catch most viruses as long as the antivirus software is kept up to date. It is absolutely crucial that users run antivirus software on their computers. With that in mind, Tulane University provides any current student, staff, or faculty with a copy of Trend Micro OfficeScan. Visit to download your free copy.

Step 3 – Use Strong Passwords

Password enumeration attacks are becoming more common at work and home.

Recent increases in computer hacking and viruses worldwide have caused many systems to become exploited. Hackers often attempt to gain access to a computer by guessing all possible combinations of passwords. Using a modern PC, a hacker can normally break a simple password remotely in less than 60 seconds. Once broken, your password may allow someone to access your files.

A good password should meet the following requirements:

  • The password should be at least 10 characters long
  • The password should contain at least one non-alpha character (a number, period, space, comma etc)
  • The password should contain at least one uppercase and one lowercase letter
  • Not be a word that appears in a dictionary

Passphrases are excellent!:

  • Movie: Gone With The Wind = G0neWithTheWind!
  • Sports team = New Orleans Saints = NewOrl3nsSaints
  • OK: 88Ffchamps “1988 Final Four Champions” (good but uses a dictionary word)
  • Bad: Password01 (no complexity, uses a dictionary word)

Step 4 – Backup your important files

Even if you follow all of these recommendations, it is still possible that a hacker could compromise your computer. In 'a worst case scenario', a hacker's programs or virus will corrupt, infect, or erase your computer files. Or your hard drive could simply fail, causing the loss of all your data. Also it is becoming more common that a computer that has been infected with a virus may need to be formatted and have all of the software reinstalled.

By backing up your files to a burnable CD, DVD, Floppy disk, external hard drive, thumb drive, or a workgroup file server, you can save yourself a lot of trouble if your computer gets a virus.

Technology Services, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 -- TSNOC: 504-862-8888 --