Information Technology Services

Drop Shadow

Seven Practices for Safer Computing

1. Protect your personal information. It's valuable.

How do I do this?

  • If you are asked for personal information, find out how it will be used and how it will be protected before you share it.
  • If you receive an e-mail or get a pop-up message asking for personal information, do not reply or click on the link in the message.
  • If you are shopping online, do not provide your personal or financial information through a company's Web site until you have checked for indicators that the site is secure.
  • Read Web site privacy policies.
  • Make sure you log out of everything when you are finished.

Find out more

2. Know who you're dealing with.

What should I watch out for?

  • Phishing: Never reply to or click on links in e-mail or pop-ups that ask for personal information. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via e-mail.
  • Free software and file-sharing: If you don't check the proper settings, you could allow access not just to the files you intend to share, but also to other information on you hard drive. If you decide to use file-sharing software, set it up very carefully. Take the time to read the End User License Agreement to be sure you understand the side effects of any free downloads.
  • Spyware: To avoid spyware, resist the urge to install any software unless you know exactly what it is. You can install separate anti-spyware software,and then use it regularly to scan for and delete any spyware programs that may sneak onto your computer.
  • E-mail attachments and links: Don’t open an e-mail attachment — even if it appears to be from a friend or coworker — unless you are expecting it or know what it contains. You can help others trust your attachments by including a message in your text explaining what you’re attaching.

Recent examples of phishing e-mails

Example One | Example Two | Example Three | More Examples

3. Use anti-virus software and a firewall, and update both regularly.

Get anti-virus software now!

  • USD has a comprehensive site license for Norton’s Symantec virus protection software, for Windows and Macintosh. Download it free here (MySanDiego login required): Virus Updates

Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date

4. Be sure to set up your operating system and Web browser software properly, and update them regularly.

How do I do this?

Try this:

5. Make your passwords strong and keep them safe.

How do I do this?

  • Do not share your passwords with anyone.
  • Use passwords that have at least eight characters and include numbers and/or symbols.
  • Avoid using common words in your password. Some hackers use programs that can try every word in the dictionary.
  • Do not use personal information (birthdays, pets' names, etc.), your username, or adjacent keys on the keyboard as passwords.
  • Change your passwords regularly (as a minimum, every 90 days).
  • Do not use the same password for each online account that you access.

Password creation tip

  • One way to create a strong password is to think of a memorable phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password, converting some letters into numbers that resemble letters.
  • For example: "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck" would become HmWc@wcC.

Try this!

6. Back up important files.

Why do I need to do this?

  • No system is completely secure.
  • Equipment can fail.

How do I do this?

  • USD provides 20 GB of personal server storage space on the Central File Server for each university faculty member.
  • You can also purchase an external hard drive. USD-branded memory sticks and external hard drives are available for purchase at the USD Torero Store.

7. Learn who to contact if something goes wrong online.

Whom should I contact?

  • If you believe that you have been the victim of a security incident, please let us know by sending an e-mail to Providing detailed information will help us better respond to your issue.
  • If you believe that you have been the victim of identity theft, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.