Protecting your computer on a network

Preventing your computer from becoming infested with harmful software and securing your data from loss or theft are growing increasingly important. Keeping your information and your equipment safe requires active vigilance on your part.

Back it up!

Malware and viruses can corrupt your personal data or cause the operating system on your computer to crash. The best way to prevent data loss is to perform regular backups. Data can be backed up to:

  • a flash drive or thumb drive
  • a second hard disk drive (internal or external)
  • an optical disc (DVD-R/DVD-RW, CDR/CDRW)
  • an online backup service
  • a cloud-based file synchronization service (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.)

If you would like to start a regular backup routine and need help, please contact the assistance center.

Threats

Four of the most common internet threats to your data and equipment include

Viruses

There are dozens of ways that viruses are spread these days, including

  • opening unexpected email attachments
  • surfing unsafe websites
  • not performing security updates or virus scans regularly
  • downloading infected software

Using anti-virus software will greatly reduce your chance of infecting your computer with a virus and possibly spreading the virus software to others.

Malware

Programs that seem innocent—screen savers, shopping helpers, and toolbar add-ons—will sometimes be bundled with software known as malware. These unwanted programs can do things like hijack your web browser, add unknown software, launch pop-up ads, secretly track what web sites you visit, record passwords, and slow down your computer.

Malware hides behind programs that usually provide you with some sort of service. Problems will begin cropping up after the malware is installed and can cause your computer to become unstable, thus putting the integrity of your data at risk if your hard drive should crash.

In the end, you and your department lose productivity and possibly expose sensitive information to unknown people. Is it worth the risk?

Phishing/Spoofing

Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is the act of baiting users into providing sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, or credit card information by impersonating a trustworthy entity such as a bank, social media site, IT administrators, etc.

Emails and messages often direct to a fake websites whose look and feel are identical to the real one or to sites infected with malware. If the link’s URL is misspelled, if the messages comes from a public internet account or if it prompts you for banking information, close the window and go back following a previously bookmarked safe path. Google Support provides ways to recognize and protect yourself from suspicious messages that may attempt to compromise your safety.

If you receive a suspicious mail message on your UALR mail account, check our suspicious email alerts tool to see if the message is widespread or report the message to our assistance center.

Spam

Electronic junk mail, called spam, can be a major nuisance to anyone who receives it. Spam can eat up a lot of space on your email account or your computer’s hard drive. It can also create a lot of network traffic that slows net speeds for everyone.

The Report Spam button is in Google Mail along with the Archive and Trash commands.

Report Spam button

If the company sending you junk mail is not trustworthy, do not reply or try to unsubscribe. Any communication from you tells the sender that it is an active email address, encouraging them to send more. Instead, use the Report Spam feature within Google Mail’s web interface. This will help Google to improve their spam filter for everyone.