Three Basic Tips for Protecting Your Home Computer

Amid the ongoing events and our recently remote arrangements, you may find yourself in a different location or using a home computer for your work duties. OIT has the following three tips for using your own personal hardware to do your work. Following this advice will better protect you, your computer, and the college.

1. Avoid clicking links in email

When you receive email with URLs, or links inside, unless the email originated directly from someone you know and trust, do not click on them without careful review. At a minimum, use your mouse to hover over a link and see where it really leads (on mobile, try a long-press on a link or button in an email). If the domain (i.e. is different from what you’d expect or unrecognized, do not follow the link.

Instead, go to Google and search for the content that the email referenced. If it’s legitimate information or product offer, you will easily find it on official sources online. This is particularly important for your banking and credit card sites, as scammers are constantly sending fake emails to trick you, and we expect this will increase with coronavirus themes.

2. Install an Anti-Virus program

Today, this tip should apply to Mac and Windows users evenly, as more malware is being written for both platforms. Whichever operating system you use, we strongly encourage you to protect it by installing an Anti-Virus program or app to stop malware from running locally before it can do damage.

There are a number of commercial products, all with positives and negatives, some free some paid subscriptions. One good option is SOPHOS home (…no trick, this link is safe).

3. Create accounts for each person that may use shared computer

If the computer you are using is a shared resource in your household, a good practice is to create a unique user account for each person that uses the system.

This means each person can use the computer without interfering with one another’s folders, files, data, apps, settings and preferences. Each user can then log in with their own unique set of credentials, which keeps college data safe from family members, as others would not be accessing your desktop and files. Look for “Users and Groups” in your System Preferences (Mac) or Accounts in Settings (Windows). Each user should always log off when done, to not leave documents or network connections like VPN open in the background. This way another user won’t accidentally shut the system down and cause work to be lost.

These should be considered basic steps that you can take to better protect your home equipment, your personal data and the college. Thank you for your awareness during this time of transition!