Computer crime is much more common and easy to perform than people realize. Help us in our effort to protect you and the JMU network by reviewing the following resources and taking the recommended actions.

RunSafe with secure computing practices!

Who can use this Service?

JMU faculty, staff, and students

How can I get this Service?

Read the information below for a more comprehensive look at how operational behaviors and strategic planning affect security.

Safeguard Passwords

Creating strong passwords for your various accounts, and using those passwords with discretion, are two of the best ways to prevent intruders from accessing your personal and sensitive data.

Strong Passwords:

A strong password is made up of a variety of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols (though some systems will not allow for the use of certain characters). Words found in the English dictionary can readily be discovered by hackers, so it is best to use a series of unrelated characters. The longer you make your password, the stronger it is. The easiest way to create a strong password is to choose a sentence which will remind you of the password (e.g. what time is my accounting class in Showker 240? (WtimaciS2?)).

Discretionary Password Use:

Never enter your password on a computer, website, or wireless network you do not trust. Doing so may give an unknown third-party access to your accountsIt is also important to not share your passwords with anyone because that information can easily be passed on and abused. This includes giving your password to third party services for managing email such as myMail.

Password Managers:

You should create unique passwords for every account you have so that a compromise of one website doesn’t give criminals the ability to log into all your other accounts. With the number of accounts most people have, having unique passwords for each site quickly becomes difficult to manage. A password manager can help you easily keep track of your passwords. While JMU IT does not recommend a particular password manager for personal use, 1Password and Bitwarden have been reviewed. LastPass and KeePass are other commonly used password managers. Some are free and some charge a fee.

Do Not Trust Everyone

Protect your privacy.

Do not run programs from persons you do not know or trust.

Do not allow untrusted individuals use of your computer as they will then be able to collect your passwords and other data.

Use discernment when checking e-mail or using the web as most common electronic communication methods are notoriously easy to forge. Malicious programs are found not only in e-mail attachments, but also instant messages, web sites, web browser extensions and folders shared over a network.

One way to reduce the risk of exposing your computer to a harmful program is to open files from within their appropriate application (as opposed to double clicking a file to open it directly from an e-mail. web site, etc.). Running anti-virus software also helps protect your computer.

Limit Sensitive Data Use

When you provide any form of sensitive data (e.g. SSN, credit card number, bank account info), make sure to validate who you are giving it to and consider whether the information is absolutely necessary to them. If there is any concern as to why the data is needed, do not hesitate to ask why they need that information. By using discretion when providing others with your sensitive data, you greatly reduce the risk of it being stolen. Be aware that anything you type into a computer may be recorded, so do not type sensitive data into untrusted computers.

Limit the amount of sensitive data you store on your JMU computer. Delete the data as soon as it is no longer needed. If you must store sensitive data, you should use encryption to help protect that data.

Update Software

In order to prevent a criminal or virus from taking control of your computer (and in turn gaining access to your personal information, identity, and network) it is highly recommended that you download and install the most current updates for your operating system (e.g. Windows, macOS), your version of Microsoft Office, and any other software you have on your system (e.g. iTunes, Firefox). If available, configure your software to automatically update to keep your system current.

Regular User Accounts

Setting up a non-administrative account for day-to-day computer use will prevent most viruses and spyware from being installed on your computer. Even if one does get installed, the damage will be greatly reduced. If you use an administrator account for daily use, there is a much greater chance that your computer will become infected with spyware or other unwanted programs. Only use the administrator account when administrator privilege is required.

Wireless Security

Setting up a secure wireless network in your home and using only trusted servers and applications (that protect your data) when connected to public wireless networks are essential steps in preventing your computer from being hacked through an unprotected wireless network.

Back-up Data Regularly

Data loss can occur due to hardware failure, mistakes, or system compromise. It is important to regularly back-up your hard drive.

Do Not Ignore Warnings

System compromises can occur when warning messages are ignored. It is important to carefully read and take note of repeated virus warnings from your anti-virus software, new certificate pop-ups on secure web sites, and warnings about host key changing when using SSH. Be sure to contact support personnel if you suspect your system has been compromised.

Where can I get Help/Support?

Signup for an IT Training workshop

Information Technology Help Desk at (540) 568-3555, IT Service Portal or helpdesk@jmu.edu

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