Protect your PC Guide

Update & Patch Software

One of the most important steps in protecting your computer is regularly updating your software - in particular, your Operating System. Updating your system would include installing patches, which are small applications supplied by software developers that are intended to fix a bug in their products and prohibit hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities posed by unpatched applications. Vendors typically provide patches at no cost to their customers on their website or you can be notified of new patches via email if you subscribe to a mailing list.
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Install Anti-Virus Software

Anti-virus software is vital in the protection of your computer from harmful viruses that can do real damage not only to your files and software, but to your hardware as well. There are a variety of anti-virus products on the market today
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Update Definition Files

definition file is a file with a list of virus definitions. All known viruses need to be added to this list so your anti-virus software can detect them when it scans your files. It's not enough to just have anti-virus software installed - without regularly updating definition files, the anti-virus software is ineffective since it's not protecting your computer from new viruses.
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Enable Firewall Protection

A firewall can be a piece of software or hardware. Firewall software is used to determine what incoming traffic is allowed or needs to be blocked from your computer. In order for this to occur, your firewall has to look at every piece of information that tries to enter or leave your computer. If a site is trying to contact your computer and is not recognized by your firewall, it will be blocked. You can customize what sites you would like to have blocked, allowed or filtered. 
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Install Anti-Spyware Software

Spyware is software that uses a background internet connection to gather certain information on users without their knowledge. Spyware typically tracks and monitors users' web surfing habits for the purpose of marketing and advertising. Installing anti-spyware software such as Ad-Aware (which is free to individual home users) helps to avoid and remove spyware.
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Backup your Files

As good practice, you should regularly back up important files and documents on your computer in case your hard drive ever crashes. Files can be backed up offline via external hard drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs) - hard drives are more suited for long-term storage due to the low cost and greater storage space compared to similarly priced solid-state drives. Files can also be easily backed up online with cloud storage services such as Microsoft Onedrive (available through your U of G Microsoft account!), Google Drive, or Dropbox. If you would like assistance with any of these options, please contact the CCS Help Centre.
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Manage your Passwords

Some important points to keep in mind about your Central Login account and password:

  • Always Protect Your Login and Password!
  • The University will never ask for your password to be sent via email
  • Clicking unsolicited web links can contaminate your computer
  • Never enter your UofG password at a site you do not trust
  • Your University password should never be reused for other purposes

If you receive a suspicious email, please visit our Phishing Information web site to review recent scams and phishing attempts and report it to the CCS Help Centre.

It's also important for you to choose complex passwords that will help prevent hackers from accessing your accounts. When selecting your password, make sure the password is:

  • hard to guess by somebody else, but easy for you to remember so you don't have to write it down.
  • not a word that can be found in a dictionary.
  • between 10 and 30 characters long.
  • unique and not a reused password
  • a mix of characters, including members of at least three groups of: capital letters, lower case letters, numbers, and simple punctuation or special characters such as $ ( ) ! + - _ . = { } (Note that some characters are not allowed as they may be problematic for some applications: < > ' " ; , @ \ % & `)
  • changed regularly

Reminder - After changing your password, please ensure you update it on your mobile devices to continue receiving email and access the wireless network on those devices. You may also need to update your password for access to certain applications or resources such as CFS.

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Download & File Share Responsibly

Take caution when you download anything from a site you are not familiar with or when using file sharing applications - you may be at a risk for potentially downloading a virus or spyware. Make sure you are downloading from a trusted source and not infringing on any copyright laws.
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Reduce Spam Abuse

Spam abuse is another problem that comes with email, but it's more of an annoyance and time waster than anything else. Spam refers to unsolicited junk mail that is sent to a large number of people to promote products or services.

Spam can be significantly reduced by using:

  • our spam filtering
  • our block/accept list to permanently block or accept specific email addresses
  • setting up custom mail filters on your favourite email client

In addition, CCS has blocked attachments with certain file extensions to reduce the chances of spreading viruses via email. However, spammers are always finding new ways to bypass filters so it is very likely that some spam will make its way to your inbox.
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Encrypt Sensitive Data

When you submit data through the internet it is viewable by anyone so it's very important to make sure sensitive data such as passwords and credit card information is encrypted before it is submitted over the internet. The process of data encryption is, simply put, converting readable data to a state that is unreadable by a snooping third party. This can be easily done to text/PDF/Word documents by password protecting them with Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat. Other types of files (and entire folders!) can also be encrypted with third-party file/folder compressing and encrypting services, or by enabling Bitlocker on your Windows device (unsupported on Windows Home devices - U of Guelph students can get a free Windows 10 or 11 Education edition product key from our Software Distribution site to be able to encrypt their devices).
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