The modern internet is plagued by security concerns, and nowhere is that more apparent and relevant than here at the UA. Because we offer high-speed ethernet connections to so many customers, our network is an ideal environment for viruses to spread with alarming quickness, creating a very hostile habitat for unprotected computers.
When you agree to the UA Acceptable Use Policy for Computers and Networks, you agree to take appropriate security measures to protect both your computer accounts and your personal computers in the following ways:
- Choosing strong passwords for computing accounts
- Keeping personal account information and passwords private
- Installing and maintaining an anti-virus solution on your personal computer
- Keeping your operating system current with security patches
The University of Arizona recommends that any student intending to bring a computer to campus take the following steps to insure that the computer stays secure and functional. The 24/7 Help Desk will assist students in taking the following measures:
- Install antivirus software. (and keep it updated!)
- Install all critical operating system patches.
- Enable/Install a firewall on your network connections.
- Scan for spyware and immunize against future infections.
There are many antivirus companies to choose from. Many new computers come with trial versions from Norton or McAfee, however, these software packages require a subscription in order to remain current with new virus definitions. If you do not subscribe to their service you will only be protected until your free trial runs out. Your computer will then be at risk. Also, it is important that you have only one antivirus program installed on your computer at any time. Multiple antivirus programs will leave you no virus protection!
The University of Arizona offers Sophos Antivirus for free download to all University students, staff, faculty and affiliates. The remote update will automatically update your antivirus software when new files are available.
- Instructions on download, installation and configuration of Sophos antivirus.
- Download Sophos from https://sitelicense.arizona.edu/sophos.
Whatever antivirus solution you choose, you must be sure that it is staying updated. Â With the frequency of new and mutated viruses, antivirus companies release updates at least once a week, on average, with some updating every day. It is imperative that you maintain your antivirus software. Having an installed, but out-of-date, antivirus program is only marginally better than not having one at all.
Operating System Patches
As security vulnerabilities are identified and reported software manufacturers release "fixes". Nearly all modern consumer operating systems now offer some form of automatic security patching to combat the security concerns of viruses and malicious network attacks. While the frequency of these updates varies with your OS, it is still important to actively ensure that your OS is staying current.
- Configuring Automatic Updates in Microsoft Windows. Download guide
A software firewall is a security tool to help limit network traffic to approved applications. This can prevent some basic virus and spyware infestations and help protect your computer from hackers. Most desktop operating systems now come with a firewall included. Â If you are using an older OS like Windows 95/98/ME/2000, then you will need to install a 3rd party firewall. OSCR recommends use of the built-in firewall for most users. If you feel you are a more advanced user and require more flexibilty the University of Arizona has a license for any student, staff, faculty, or affiliate to download a free copy of Kerio Personal Firewall. This will work for any Windows version newer than Windows 95. There are also many firewall solutions you can purchase.
The term spyware refers to a multitude of malicious software programs that can gain access to your computer. Spyware, also known as adware or malware, is software developed by companies or individuals meant to do a number of things including tracking your web site visits and redirecting your web browser searches and homepages to a site of the author's choosing.
A computer infected with spyware can often be easily identified. Standard symptoms include:
- Frequent and multiple pop-up advertisement windows.
- Inability to visit certain web sites or access pages requiring you to log in.
- Severe increase in start up time, often taking several minutes for Windows to be usable.
- General reduction of computer performance often accompanied by additional fan noise on laptops and increased sluggishness in launching and working with software.
These symptoms do not always indicate spyware infestations. However, they are commonly seen in computers suffering infections.
A number of spyware removal tools have emerged to combat this problem. OSCR uses and recommends a combination of AdAware (only free if used on your personal computer) and Spybot Search & Destroy (free for all uses) to detect, remove and prevent spyware from getting installed on your computer.
- Installing and using Spybot Search & Destroy and AdAware. Download guide (pdf file)
Even if your computer is not showing symptoms of infection it is a good idea to install both of these software packages and run scans regularly. In addition to an excellent detection engine, Spybot Search & Destroy also includes an "Immunization" feature that will help prevent spyware infections. An add-on for Internet Explorer that will reject unauthorized downloads is included as well.
There are many other spyware removal tools available including CounterSpy, an anti-spyware program developed by Sunbelt Software. The University of Arizona has been granted a non-commercial site license of CounterSpy. This makes it available at no cost to students, faculty, and staff. The software can be downloaded from the University's Site
Additionally, many security prevention organizations now recommend finding an alternative to the popular web browser Internet Explorer. A great web browser and one that is highly recommended by OSCR is Mozilla Firefox. Firefox is available as a free download. If you decide to use an alternative web browser it is important to ensure it receives software patches on a regular basis.