IT Connect
Your connection to information technology at the UW

Securing your computer

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Fight Viruses and Secure Your Connections: Anti-virus software, secure file transfer, and secure terminal sessions.
Get Sophos Anti-Virus Software
Get and Use Secure File Transfer Tools

Security Basics

Keep Your Operating System and Software Updated

  • All computers should have up-to-date operating systems with current anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. (Windows XP users should see Securing Your XP System.)
  • Most new computers are configured to automatically check for updates. As soon as updates are available, install them.
  • Caution: Follow your computer support person’s instructions whenever you add software or change the configuration of your computer.

Important: If someone else manages or maintains your computer, check with them before installing anti-virus or anti-spyware software. Learn more about your role in Computer Management.

Protect Your Computer From Viruses and Spyware

Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software
The UW provides Sophos anti-virus software to all current faculty, staff, and students. Both anti-virus and anti-spyware functions are available if the (optional) feature to “scan for adware and PUAs” (Potentially Unwanted Applications) has been enabled.

Running multiple anti-virus and anti-spyware programs at the same time can create conflicts. When you do an anti-spyware scan, it is a good idea to turn off your anti-virus software. Do your scan and then turn the anti-virus software back on.

Protect Your Password

Do not share your UW NetID password
It is against policy to share your personal UW NetID and password with someone else. Do not give your UW NetID and password to anyone else, even if they are a close friend or member of your family.
UW staff, including UW Information Technology consultants, will NEVER ask for your password. Email messages that ask you to send your UW NetID and password (such as to “verify your account”) are fakes and should not be responded to.
Choose a strong, complex password
Choose a complex password to reduce the likelihood of your password being guessed or cracked. If needed, it is easy to change your UW NetID password.

Protect Your Information

Use Authentication and Authorization Services
The following Authentication and Authorization Services are available from UW-IT for use in UW applications and services:

Promptly report information security or privacy incidents
Ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of UW information while at the same time making it available for use requires careful strategic, tactical, and operational planning. The Office of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) works with UW units to develop management strategies, manage incidents, and assess risks. Learn more here:

Secure File Transfer Tools

Follow Secure Computing Practices

The following are good security practices that will help protect you and your computer.

Do backups regularly
Regularly making backups is one of your best defenses against loss caused by viruses, worms, or software and hardware failure.

  • Do your backups on a regular schedule, such as once a week, or once every other week, or once a month.
  • Use one method for doing backups, such as using the backup utility that comes with your operating system. Learn about its features, and use it in a consistent manner.
  • Keep copies of the backups off-site. Your diligence in doing regular backups is wasted if you keep them next to your computer and you have an office fire.
  • Important Note: Backups, which are usually done to support recovery in the event of an accident, attack, or disaster, do not meet the requirements for records retention. University staff should have an additional systematic process for copying records to a secure yet readily accessible location and a schedule for eliminating records that are no longer needed.
Completely quit your browser after a required login
Browsers remember your ID and password until you completely quit the browser. Close all windows of the browser program and quit the program itself to clear its memory. In a computer lab or when using a kiosk, go through the complete logout and exit process before leaving the computer. DO NOT just walk away from your session.
Last reviewed June 8, 2018