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Securing your Computer:


Safe Computing

Safe computing is mostly about prudence, preparation, and prevention. NDSU has seen a large number of computers on the network become compromised. The following  suggestions are intended to help students, faculty, and staff become more aware of safe computing issues.

 The Internet is a powerful resource, but the same features that make it powerful also provide the means for misuse. Your "network neighbors" are world-wide, and, if you are not careful, they may have complete access to your system or you identity. While there really is no "100% secure" Internet-connected computer system, it is possible to take a few simple steps to get close.

Of course, you might say, "I don't have any top secret information on my computer." However, you don't want to lose what you do have, and you don't want to be responsible for illegal activity on your computer. "Infected" computers can

  • Infect other systems
  • Take down entire businesses or networks
  • Be used for illegal activities
  • Be used as repositories for copyright protected media or software
  • Have information corrupted or deleted

Hundreds of computers can be taken over in seconds. Remember that you, as an owner of an account or computer, are responsible for any and all activity using your access information. You can save yourself a lot of grief by following some basic rules for safe computing.  

Create a Secure Login

Creating a secure login is the first and possibly the easiest step to a more secure computer.  Here are a few tips on creating a more secure computer simply by creating a secure Login

  • Always set up accounts that require good passwords. Do NOT allow a password to be empty or blank. Most password cracking tools that can find these and compromise them in seconds. Don't be an easy target.
  • Use GOOD PASSWORDS! Do NOT use words that could be looked up in a dictionary or are simple.  Password crackers can "guess" those in seconds. When possible, use special characters, digits, mixed case, etc. NDSU requires that your password should be at least 8 characters long, mixed case, special characters and digits. The website recently named the 25 worst passwords of 2012 and number 1 is still "password" <-- Don't use this password!!!
  • It is recommended that you remove un-needed accounts from your computer.  Removing the guest account will secure your computer.  Also, by removing un-needed accounts gives you a way to easily see if rouge accounts have been created if your computer does become compromised.

Update, Update, Update

In 2000, Microsoft released Automatic Updates to try to make sure that Windows computers connected to the Internet were getting the latest patches for their Operating System. This is a practice you should also get into regarding your computers as well.

  • On NDSU computer equipment we utilize WSUS ( Windows Server Update Services) to provide the Microsoft based Windows computers their updates. 
  • For the Macs on campus we suggest that you check for updates on a weekly basis. Simply click the apple in the upper left and select Software Update... to start the update application
  • Linux computers use a wide a varied update tool ranging from apt-get, pacman, yum, and many others, we suggest you update your software at least weekly

You should also make sure that your applications you have installed on your computer get updated as well.  Most applications now have their own update utility built in and some operating systems have application stores that update those applications as updates become available.  Until there are application stores for all operating systems please make sure your editing, viewing, watching and listening software is all up to date.

NDSU IT Security Updates

Aug 4, 2015

Free Windows 10 Upgrade, yes indeed Windows 10 is a free upgrade for a year for computers with Windows 7 and 8 installed on them. However, Microsoft will not tell you about this in an e-mail.  Ransomware (software that will encrypt your files and then ask for money for the decryption key) has been seen being delivered through an e-mail promising a free windows 10 upgrade.  Delete these messages as you get them and do not open any attachment that you did not expect to receive.


Jul 28, 2015

1.4 million cars recalled for vulnerable remote control. Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicles can possibly be controlled remotely over the Sprint network. Researchers have shown that while sitting at their desks they can take over many functions of a vehicle on the road through the onboard Infotainment system tied to the Sprint cellular network.

Feb 17, 2015

Over-sharing on a first date could lead to no second date, but over-sharing on a social media site could lead to data theft, real property theft, or physical danger to yourself or your family. There are lots of automated scripts already running on the Internet looking for keywords that are posted to social media,  these scripts do everything from changing the word "meet" to "meat" and posting the results to twitter, to alerting potential thieves that a family is now on vacation and away from their house. Be safe on social media

Feb 6, 2015

New Slim Spray Diet ... Want a Cruise ... Fight Hair Loss Now ... SPAM SPAM SPAM ... It seems to get into every e-mail inbox beofre the account is even setup.  But there are some ways to fight this menace.

  • Don't reply to it
  • Don't tell vendors your e-mail account
  • If your service has the option, report it or mark it as spam

There are more ways to fight in the link below.

FEB 4, 2015

Its Tax Refund Season, Time for a new phone or tablet. But what about the old one? Do you have information on that device that could be used against you?  How can you make sure that your old phones and devices don't come back to haunt you when you are done with it?  Many people buy old equipment off ebay just to see what kind of data is left on those devices.  Follow this guide to make sure that your device is wiped clean before you dispose of it.

FEB 3, 2015

When you download an app on social media or your mobile device, you may be allowing it to collect personal information like your contacts list or location. If possible, look at an app’s permissions before downloading and make sure you are comfortable with the information it collects. If the app does not tell you what information it collects, error on the side of caution and assume that it may be collecting information.


FEB 2, 2015

There is a security and privacy threat almost everywhere you go.  Most don't even think about it.  Free WIFI, if its free how can that be bad? In fact most Free WIFI could be quite safe, but a few access points could have an active sniffer on the line watching every single nibble of data that goes across its interface, looking for passwords, usernames, or e-mail addresses.  Click Below for more information on safely using WIFI when traveling.

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North Dakota State University
IT Help Desk Phone: +1 (701) 231-8685
Administrative Calls Only: +1 (701) 231-7961 / Fax: (701) 231-8541
Campus address: Quentin Burdick Building 206
Physical/delivery address: 1320 Albrecht Blvd, Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address: NDSU Dept. 4510 / PO Box 6050 / Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Page manager: Information Technology Services

Last Updated: Friday, January 13, 2012