The University of Texas at Austin

Security Awareness

ARCHIVED ARTICLE

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Three Easy Steps to Computer Safety

Use BevoWare security software to protect your computer and data.

  1. Anti-Virus
    Protect your computer from viruses, spam, and other attacks. Download anti-virus software at no cost from the ITS BevoWare Web site.
  2. Firewall
    A firewall protects the university network and your computer from hackers. Again, download the Firewall from the BevoWare site—at no additional cost.
  3. Updates
    Update your operating system and security software regularly. Set your computer to auto-update with the latest patches and security updates.

In addition to anti-virus and security software, BevoWare includes Web browsers, e-mail applications, media and file viewers and much more.

Tips for Safe Instant Messaging

Get advice on securing your personal information and your computer when using IM.

Instant messaging (IM) is fun, it’s fast and it’s dangerous. Okay, so Vin Diesel probably won’t be making a movie about it, but IM is quickly becoming the leading method for spreading malicious code and viruses on the Web. Here are some basic tips to help keep you and your computer safe when instant messaging.

  • Create a strong password for your IM account. Use upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation marks.
  • Never accept files or click links within messages you weren’t expecting. Computer viruses are most commonly spread through IM attachments or messages asking you to click a link. Before downloading attachments or clicking links, you should always confirm that they came from the actual sender. Check with the sender using e-mail, phone, or something other than IM to confirm the message is legitimate.
  • Never trust that your IM conversations are completely secure. Think of IM as being about as private as a postcard. These messages are a relatively easy target for hackers and can be easily monitored. If you’re using a wireless network, you should be doubly careful. Wireless networks are often insecure and can be easily monitored without much effort.
  • Never give out any personal or sensitive information when using IM. Limit any private information you share about yourself in IM. Consider such information as your name, location, passwords, PIN, Social Security number or credit card information as off-limits.
  • Choose a screen name that isn’t too close to your real name. Also, keep your screen name private. If you post your IM screen name online, you are setting yourself up as a target for spim, the IM equivalent of spam. It’s also a good idea to avoid having a gender-specific screen name. This can also target you for unwanted or harassing messages.
  • Be suspicious. It’s never a bad thing to be overly cautious when instant messaging. The Internet affords great anonymity. It’s easy to pose as someone you’re not or say things you don’t mean. For a number of reasons, such as faked user names or stolen accounts, it’s difficult to know if the person you’re “talking” with is actually who they claim to be. Also, some viruses will send instant messages to infect everyone on a victim’s IM contact list. What you think may be an incoming message from a trusted friend may actually have been created by a virus.
  • Check your security settings. Disable settings that would allow automatic file or attachment downloads; make sure your default security settings are reasonably strong. Your IM client may also provide you with the ability to limit your IM sessions only to users you invite. 
  • Make sure you're using an updated version of your IM software. The latest versions of your IM software will have the most up-to-date security capabilities and will better protect your computer against viruses and spyware.
  • Remember that your IM client is only as secure as your own computer. Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date. Antivirus software can help to detect and remove IM viruses from your computer, but only if you keep the security software current. Check the BevoWare Web site regularly for new patches and updates.