Secure Your Personal Computer

To create and maintain a safe computing environment on your personal computer, be sure to...

  • Update your Operating System
  • Update your Web Browsers
  • Use anti-virus software and keep virus definitions up-to-date.  Anti-Virus software is available for all Clarion students and employees.  See the Computer Services Anti-Virus Software page for complete information.
  • Follow the principle of least privilege.  Setup a local computer account for every day use and only use an administrator account when you need to perform specific tasks.  See this Windows Central article for additional information,
  • Backup your files on a regular basis.
  • For additional instructions for home computer security practices and settings, see the following site: US Cert Home IT Security Tips.

For safe computing tips for your personal mobile device, please see our Safe Computing - Mobile Devices site.

Note:  the information provided here was developed to assist home users with personally owned computers.  If you have questions or concerns about University owned equipment, please contact the Help Desk.


here are other general security considerations with your personal computer usage:

  • Back up your data - A simple basic backup plan is to plug a good-sized, formatted blank thumb drive (or USB stick) into your computer.  Double click on it and open a directory.  As you work on your latest project and it comes time to take a break, save your work, close those crucial files, and drag a copy of them into the directory on the thumb drive.  The more important your project is and the closer you get to the deadline, the more often you should pause to make a copy of your crucial files.  The more often you backup, the less you stand to lose.  After you have made a backup by whatever means, check to make sure the copies are complete and that they work.  At the office, check with IT about using a thumb drive - some organizations do not allow them.
  • Use email wisely - Email is not private.  Never send personal or sensitive information by email.  Never view, open, or even click on email attachments unless you know who sent it, why they sent it, and what's in it.  Even messages forwarded to you by friends might contain infected attachment and links that will shuttle you off to dangerous websites.
  • Regard the Internet as a bad neighborhood at 2 am - In 2008 about 1.5 billion people using the Internet worldwide and the number of websites approached 200,000,000.  With that many apples in the barrel, it's anyone's guess how many are rotten.  The steady growth of web commerce attracts not only ordinary scammers, pirates, and thieves, but also national and multi-national organized crime syndicates.  Criminal activity for financial gain is the single largest driver of massive increases in Internet threats and bringing Internet criminals to justice remains a challenging task.  Practice on-line safety.  Protect your privacy, your identity, and your money.
  • Ratchet up your browser's security - Malicious hackers and virus writers can infect your computer by taking advantage of low security settings in your browser software and enticing you to visit a malicious website.  You can help limit your chances of being attacked by increasing your security settings and conducting business or entering sensitive information only on secure websites.  Look for addresses that begin with https:// and check for the yellow security lock icon at the bottom of your browser window.
  • Protect sensitive information, especially when you use a public computer - It's best to avoid typing your credit card number or other financial or sensitive information into any public computer, but sometimes you can't avoid it.  Don't save your log-on information.  Don't leave a public computer unattended with sensitive information on the screen.  Web browsers keep a record of your passwords and every page you visit, even after you've closed them and logged out.  Learn how to erase your tracks.  Watch for over-the-shoulder snoops.
  • Be careful with wireless network - Secure your own wireless network by enabling and using wireless encryption that scrambles the data transmitted between your PC and your wireless router.  Check your WAP (wireless access point) to find out what kinds of encryption it can provide.  Out of the box, the encryption on most WAP's will be shut off.  The most effective encryption is WPA2 (Wireless Protected Access version 2).  Use a strong password for your WPA2 encryption key.  Before you connect to someone else's wireless network, make sure it's a legitimate hotspot:  Nefarious types have been known to set up pirate WAP's with familiar names like "wayport" or "t-mobile", and then use them to capture passwords and other private data.  Verify that your two-way software firewall is turned on and that filesharing is off.  Always turn your Wi-Fi networking off when you're not at a hotspot.
Last Updated 3/26/20