Security and rules for computer usage

Security and misuse of computer systems is a perennial problem. There are a number of aspects:

  • Hacking attempts by outsiders trying to exploit security loopholes in (usually) system programs, or by guessing weak passwords.
  • Viruses and worms infecting systems by injudicious opening of e-mail attachments, or by exploiting security loopholes.
  • Carelessness with accounts and passwords - letting another person borrow your account or letting your password be known to someone else.

The following links give some advice on how to minimise the risk of successful hacking. In general, group desktops will be managed to avoid the worst of the known loopholes, though no system connected to a network can be considered safe. Users should ensure that they keep their own private systems as up-to-date with security patches as possible. For Windows this means using "Microsoft Update" to at least inform you of  new security fixes (and you should seriously consider having Microsoft Update automatically apply the new fixes if you are a reluctant manager of your system). There is a similar update service for RedHat Linux.

Viruses and worms are a major headache nowadays, especially on Windows. All the group-managed Windows systems run VirusScan, for which the Univerisity has a site-wide license. Users of private Windows systems are strongly encouraged to install VirusScan, as it is free to University members. They must ensure that the Engine and DAT files are both updated regularly (daily is recommended). For Macintoshs, you should use McAfee Security for Mac 1.0.

Steve Wotton and John Hill
Last update 12 October 2010.